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This online version is for convenience; the official version of this policy is housed in the University Secretariat. In case of discrepancy between the online version and the official version held by the Secretariat, the official version shall prevail. 

Approving Authority: VP: Finance and Administration

Original Approval Date: October 19, 2018

Date of Most Recent Review/Revision: N/A

Administrative Responsibility: Human Resources and Safety, Health, Environment and Risk Management (SHERM)

Parent Policy: 7.20 Fitness for Work Policy

1.0. Purpose

1.1. It is the University’s expectation that all employees report to the workplace Fit for Work and remain Fit for Work and able to perform the essential duties of their job in a safe and effective manner.

1.2. The University is committed to support and accommodate employees, who may not be Fit for Work due to disability, as required under the Ontario Human Rights Code; and to provide a safe and healthy workplace for employees and others in accordance with the University’s obligation as an employer under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1990.

2.0. Scope

This Procedure applies to all employees On Duty at any site, property or buildings owned, leased or managed by the University and any other place an employee is located while performing work for the University or while representing the University. All University contractors and subcontractors are expected either to adopt policy 7.20 Fitness for Work Policy and this Procedure as their own or to develop and enforce their own Fitness for Work Policy as it relates to their and their subcontractors’ employees (if any) when engaged in work on behalf of the University or while at any University workplace.

3.0. Assessment of Fitness for Work

3.1. Immediate supervisors and managers are responsible for the initial assessment of an employee’s Fitness for Work. If a supervisor or manager is concerned about an employee’s ability to safely perform their work, either through direct observation or a report from another individual, they must take prompt action and investigate.

3.2. Immediate action is required and the employee should immediately cease work if:

3.2.1. There has been a workplace accident or near accident where impairment is suspected.

3.2.2. When the employee’s behaviour or performance is having a serious impact on the workplace, and the behaviour is related to suspected impairment.

3.2.3. When the employee’s behaviour is putting their own safety or the safety of others at risk.

3.2.4. When Fitness for Work is in question and the employee is in a Safety Sensitive Position.

3.3. Timely consultation with Human Resources should occur when the supervisor or manager observes potential warning signs of possible Fitness for Work concerns including, but not limited to:

3.3.1. Changes in behaviour, performance or attendance;

3.3.2. Lethargy;

3.3.3. Obvious struggle to complete tasks;

3.3.4. Out of character behaviour (e.g. irritability / aggression, vagueness);

3.3.5. Apparent lack of attention or concentration;

3.3.6. Smell of alcohol / drugs on an employee;

3.3.7. Obvious illness or injury;

3.3.8. Speech or behaviour that suggests the employee may be under the influence of a substance (e.g. slurring words, disheveled appearance).

3.4. In these circumstances, the supervisor or manager should not make assumptions. They should consult with Human Resources on the most appropriate next steps. When a supervisor or manager observes changes in an employee’s attendance, performance, or behaviour that may indicate a possible addiction or medical issue that is affecting their Fitness for Work, they have an obligation to initiate a discussion with the employee about a possible need for accommodation of a disability. Supervisors and managers have a duty to inquire if an employee is clearly unwell or perceived to have a disability or addiction in need of accommodation (e.g. mental health, substance abuse). Supervisors and managers should not ask employees specific questions related to their potential medical condition, diagnosis or specific treatment details. Human Resources will assist the supervisor or manager in preparing for and conducting these conversations, and will administer any required accommodations in accordance with the University’s Employment Accomodation Policy (8.7).

4.0. Process to Address Fitness for Work Concerns

4.1. Supervisors or managers should immediately contact Human Resources for guidance and support if they suspect one of their employees is not Fit for Work.

4.2. Supervisors or managers shall instruct an employee to immediately cease work if they do not appear Fit for Work and their behaviours/actions are putting their safety or the safety of others at risk. A private, confidential discussion should take place between the supervisor or manager and the employee to determine the cause of the concerning behaviour. Supervisors and managers should not ask employees specific questions related to their potential medical condition, diagnosis or specific treatment details. The formality of this meeting, and who should be in attendance, will be dependent on the individual circumstances and will be in accordance with applicable collective agreements. Once the employee has ceased work and is in a safe location, consult with Human Resources on the appropriate next steps.

4.3. Appropriate actions on the part of the supervisor or manager may include:

4.3.1. Having the employee take a short break.

4.3.2. Temporary reassignment to alternate duties if the employee performs a Safety Sensitive Position.

4.3.3. Send the employee home to allow them time to attend to their immediate health needs and to seek medical attention as required. Employees should be sent home utilizing a safe method of transportation (e.g. taxi, calling for a ride with a friend or family member), and be placed on a temporary approved leave for the day. A follow up meeting shall be scheduled for when they return.

4.3.4. Having the employee contact Human Resources to discuss possible accommodation needs.

4.3.5. Calling Special Constable Service if the severity of their condition makes it necessary.

4.4. Supervisors and managers must prohibit, without exception, the performance of duties for employees in Safety Sensitive Positions where there is reason to believe the employee is not Fit for Work.

4.5. Employees must demonstrate they are Fit for Work prior to returning to the workplace and resuming the performance of their duties. The University, through Human Resources or SHERM, may seek medical confirmation of Fitness for Work as per the University’s Employment Accommodation Policy (8.7) and sick leave policy.

4.6. Employees shall immediately inform their supervisor/manager if they are not Fit for Work. This includes situations where the employee has consumed a substance that impairs their ability to perform their job duties. Employees are not required to disclose to their supervisor/manager their potential medical diagnosis or specific treatment details. Any related accommodations or sick leave requirements will be handled through Human Resources as per the University’s Employment Accommodation Policy (8.7) and sick leave policy.

4.7. Employees shall immediately inform their supervisor/manager if they become aware of or witness behaviour giving rise to concerns about whether another employee or contractor is Fit for Work such that the health and safety of themselves or others may be compromised.

5.0. Accommodation and Support

5.1. Employers have a duty to inquire if changes in an employee’s behaviour or performance may indicate a possible addiction or other form of disability requiring accommodation. Where it is identified that an employee is not meeting the Fitness for Work requirements to carry out the essential duties of their position due to an identified or disclosed disability, an accommodation plan may need to be developed. This plan may include temporary modified duties or time away from the workplace in order to obtain treatment. Accommodation requests may require medical documentation from the employee’s physician. Accommodations will be administered through Human Resources and/or SHERM in accordance with the University’s Employment Accommodation Policy 8.7.

5.2. The accommodation plan (the Plan) will be developed by Human Resources and/or SHERM, in consultation with the employee and their supervisor or manager. The Plan will support the employee to meet the requirements of their position over an agreed to time-period or to assess reasonable adjustment options.

6.0. Responsibilities

6.1. Human Resources/SHERM:

6.1.1. Educate supervisor and managers, and employees about the 7.20 Fitness for Work policy and procedure, and their roles and responsibilities.

6.1.2. Support supervisors and managers, and employees in the implementation of the 7.20 Fitness for Work policy and procedure, and its review.

6.1.3. Make supervisors and managers aware of any accommodation plans already in place for employees, if necessary.

6.1.4. Lead the development of accommodation plans as required and provide support to employees going through this process.

6.1.5. Initiate an investigation if required.

6.1.6. Maintain confidentiality at all times.

6.2. Employee:

6.2.1. Work in compliance with 7.20 Fitness for Work policy and procedure.

6.2.2. Inform their supervisor or manager if they are not Fit for Work prior to commencing duty

6.2.3. Comply with medical restrictions at all times.

6.2.4. Adhere to accommodation plans at all times.

6.2.5. If required, provide medical documentation to confirm Fitness for Work prior to returning to work after an injury or illness.

6.2.6 Inform their supervisor or manager if they become aware of or witness behaviour giving rise to concerns about whether another employee or contractor is Fit for Work such that the health and safety of themselves or others may be compromised

6.3. Supervisor or Manager:

6.3.1. Early identification and handling of performance problems or changes in behaviour that may indicate an employee is unfit to work.

6.3.2. Identify any situation in which they have concerns about an employee’s immediate ability to perform their job, or where they have reasonable grounds to believe there has been a violation of 7.20 Fitness for Work Policy.

6.3.3. Prohibit, without exception, the performance of duties for employees in Safety Sensitive Positions where there is reason to believe the employee is not Fit for Work.

6.3.4. Support employees who are working under an accommodation plan.

6.3.5. Keep Human Resources and/or SHERM updated as to the employee’s progress with the accommodation plan and communicate any concerns.

6.3.6. Maintain confidentiality at all times.

7.0. Definitions

7.1. Employee: A person who performs work for wages in any capacity for the University.

7.2. Fitness / Fit for Work: An employee is in a state (physically and psychologically) to perform the essential duties of their job competently and in a manner which does not compromise the safety and health of themselves or others.

7.3. On Duty: An employee is considered on duty any time they are conducting university business and undertaking duties and responsibilities associated with their contract of employment.

7.4. Safety Sensitive Position: A position that, if not performed in a safe manner, can cause direct and significant damage to property, and/or injury to the employee, others around them, the public and/or the immediate environment. This may include jobs requiring the operation of vehicles, machinery or equipment; working with hazardous materials; or jobs with responsibility for the health and safety of others.

7.5. Workplace: Any site at which the employee works including any property or buildings owned, leased or managed by the University and any other place an employee is located while performing work for the University or while representing the University. This includes operating University equipment or a personal vehicle when the employee is On Duty.

Relevant Legislation

Related Policies, Procedures and Documents

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