Return to work – stay at work

Ensuring our employees are able to remain at work or return to work in a safe, timely and sustainable manner following a medical leave is in the best interest of all parties.

The Stay at work/Return to Work program promotes early intervention. As a supervisor you have an important role to play in supporting an employee at work or helping them return to work as soon as it is medically safe to do so.

An employee’s return to work, or stay at work, may involve temporary or permanent modifications or adjustments in job duties or workplace arrangements in order to accommodate a disability of an individual staff or faculty member.

The university has made a commitment (Policy #HR6115 Employment Accommodation) to achieve a workplace free of barriers by providing medical accommodation in a manner which is fair, equitable and needs of all parties are respected.

Staff will find more information here.

Information for faculty and librarians is available through VPAC.

Information for Supervisors and Managers:

Responsibilities for supervisors and managers

Managing Simple Short Term Sick Leave

Long Term Disability

Managing Medical Accommodations

Additional information:

Purpose of the return to work program

The purpose of the return to work program is to facilitate a safe and sustainable return to work from absence due to injury, illness or a medical condition. The program is designed to meet the requirements of British Columbia’s Human Rights Code (1996).

An employee’s return to work, or stay at work, may involve temporary or permanent modifications or adjustments in job duties or workplace arrangements in order to accommodate a disability of an individual staff or faculty member.


The RTW Program respects the individual employee’s dignity, privacy of personal information and confidentiality of personal health information. Data is collected for the purpose of assisting with staying at work or developing a safe return to work plan for the employee and their department in compliance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (1996) and the Personal Information Protection Act (2004).

Who can access the return to work program?

  • Staff or faculty members may self-refer to the RTW Program
  • With the knowledge of the staff or faculty member, departments may refer employees to the RTW Program
  • With the knowledge of the staff or faculty member, bargaining unit members may refer to the RTW Program

Roles and responsibilities in the return to work process

Some or all of the following parties may be involved in return to work planning in the following capacity:

UVic: Complies with the Human Rights Code and all other relevant legislation including the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Compliance includes the duty to accommodate to the point of undue hardship for employees who meet the definition of disability as provided for in human rights law.

Departments/Administrative Units: Identifies and provides reasonable, meaningful and productive job adaptations or accommodations that assist the return to work process. Ensures that employees returning to work follow safe work practices.

Unions/Associations: Advocates on behalf of employees returning to work and ensures collective agreements are not compromised except as required by human rights legislation.

Work Life Consultants: Acts as a resource for all parties if a staff or faculty member are experiencing health related issues to remain in the workplace, or are absent/returning to work. Liaises with the medical community.  Interprets medical information.  Coordinates with all stakeholders involved in the planning, implementation and monitoring of safe and timely returns to work.  Encourages appropriate accommodation as medically recommended.  Monitors progress. Responsible for ensuring privacy and security of medical information.

The Employee: Provides objective medical documentation of limitations and abilities to the Work Life Consultant. Participates in treatment as prescribed by their medical team. Communicates regularly with their supervisor and the Work Life Consultant.

Return to work process

The Work Life Consultants each have individual departments and academic units assigned to their portfolio. Depending on what department or academic unit the employee or faculty member belongs to, the corresponding Work Life Consultant providing support to that area is assigned to the file.

The process is flexible depending on individual case needs; however, the Return to Work Process generally proceeds in the following manner:

  • program description and interview
  • collection of medical documentation for the purpose of assisting with at work accommodations or RTW
  • providing updates to all stakeholders regarding restrictions, limitations and accommodations that may be required
  • RTW plan implementation
  • follow up and monitoring

Frequently asked questions

What is the return to work program?

The return to work program is a collaborative team process to promote recovery, provide early intervention and facilitate timely return to work.

The goal of the return to work program is to establish and maintain professional and accountable working relationships with employees, supervisors, union, and physicians to develop an individualized return to work plan which meets your medical needs and the department’s operational requirements. 

What is the purpose of the return to work program?

The purpose of this program is to identify and assist with the removal of any barriers that may inhibit the return to work process for employees with a temporary or permanent injury, illness or disability.

How does the return to work program benefit me?

  • Maintains self-esteem, family stability, social ties.
  • Maintains job skills.
  • Retains productive employment.
  • Resumes “routine” life activities sooner and with less uncertainty about the future.

What’s important to tell my physician about the return to work program at UVic?

Under the program, there are various options that can be explored on a case-by-case basis to ensure you have a safe and sustainable return to work as soon as you are medically able. 

Your Work Life Consultant has a medical form for your physician to complete in order to ensure a safe and sustainable accommodation is arranged.

Who do I contact regarding my return to work?

As soon as you and your physician are discussing your return to work date, please update your supervisor so they can meet their workplace’s operational requirements and start planning for your return.

In some cases, additional medical documentation and/or a return to work meeting may be required to ensure your return is safe and sustainable and any medical limitations are understood.

What is a return to work plan?

If you are returning to work part time, or with medical limitations, your return to work should be documented in a return to work plan. An effective return to work plan:

  • will be consistent with the individual injury and specific job
  • will ensure your safety and the safety of others
  • is based on medical information provided by your physician

What might a return to work plan include?

  • work site and job modification
  • change the way a task is done
  • change routine or schedule
  • acquisition of equipment and /or tools

Is there financial assistance for departments when specialized equipment is required to assist an employee?

Yes, the university has set aside a central accommodation fund to assist departments when accommodating employees.

This is a cost-sharing fund that covers the purchase of equipment (e.g. chairs, software) and specialized services (e.g. hearing interpreter) that may be needed for a medical accommodation.

Can I return to work part time?

Possibly. If your physician has outlined your medical limitations and recommended a graduated return to work, an appropriate schedule can be developed.

This may be reviewed and discussed with you, your supervisor, a Work Life Consultant and union representative. As co-workers are often affected, the supervisor may also discuss the impact of the accommodation with them.

Forms and resources

Information on sick leave, long term disability & WorkSafeBC from benefit handbooks:

Forms and guidelines:

Related resources