Short-term disability benefits: HR's obligations

Being off work for any length of time is not easy on an employee’s morale

Short-term disability benefits: HR's obligations

Being off work for any length of time is not easy on an employee’s morale. Whether their health has been on a steady decline or a sudden accident has left them needing a recovery period, disability benefits often come as a welcome, much-needed, relief.

Despite being eligible for these benefits, sometimes employees face obstacles in getting the help they are entitled to.

HRD spoke to David Share, president of Share Lawyers, who explained how HR should react when an employee approaches them about applying for long or short-term disability benefits.

“When a worker approaches them, HR might initially feel somewhat conflicted,” explained Share. “While they want to be seen to be assisting their employees and helping them to obtain the disability benefits, sometimes they might be in two minds as to whether the employee is being legitimate in their claim. They’re put in a somewhat awkward position.”

Share’s advice to HR is to keep your judgement about the individual case completely out of it. Just fulfill your obligation to provide the employee with the forms they’ve requested and direct them in completing the process. If you can’t help, direct them to a lawyer who’s well versed in these types of claims.

“Let’s say an employee is injured at work and they’re covered by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB),” continued Share. “While the employee has already put in a claim with WSIB, someone tells them that they could be eligible for short-term disability benefits as well. Sometimes employers will try and talk the employee out of the second claim – which is wrong.

“If an employee is asking for the forms, or is claiming disability, HR should be providing that information upfront. My message to HR in general is that if you supply benefits as a perk of employment, don’t then put up barriers when someone wants to access them. Don’t make decisions around whether or not the employee should submit their own application. Give them the forms and let the insurance company decide whether or not they’re legitimate.”

To hear more on this topic, and how employees can go about applying for long or short-term disability benefits, download Share Lawyer’s free whitepaper here.

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