By Tina Coon
How do you manage a casual absence that turns into a long term disability claim? For some employers this question is easy to answer as they already have policies and procedures in place that are both equitable and fair. For most employers, however, a common response is “We don’t have anyone on claim right now, so we’ll deal with it when it happens”. While employers understand the need to manage absences, they are often mystified when faced with the task of designing a disability management program. How long do you continue to offer a disabled employee Extended Health and Dental benefits? If their disability is going to prevent them from returning to work indefinitely, can they be severed? What happens to their life insurance coverage if we change insurance carriers? Who is responsible for communicating with the employee while they are on LTD? Can we accommodate an employee that wants to return to work part-time? All of the above are valid questions that need answers before someone goes on claim. If your company doesn’t have any policies or procedures in place to deal with long term disability claims, consider having a meeting with relevant stakeholders to gain an understanding on their perspectives. Ensuring everyone involved in the process, including managers, employees and unions (if applicable), has a good understanding of the company’s corporate strategy is the key to managing expectations around employees who go on long-term disability.