'The more a person is engaged, the more likely they are to return to work'
The workplace plates of HR are often quite full if not overloaded these days, so it’s not surprising that there are some missteps being made.
Recently, Krista Siedlak of Turnpenney Milne sat down with Jeffrey Smith of Canadian HR Reporter about what she sees in her practice as the five most common missteps that HR makes and how they can mitigate legal risk for their organizations.
“Oftentimes, when an employee is going off, ill, you will frequently get back a prescription note from a doctor saying: ‘Off on medical leave. The employee is set to return on X date,’ and that’s all the note said and oftentimes employers just accept that note in goodwill and move on while the person is off. But an employer needs to understand that they are entitled to better information than that.”
“They are entitled to know not a person’s diagnosis but they’re entitled to know the prognosis and or any limitations that the employee may have returning to work,” says Siedlak in CHRR Talk episode 28: The Top 5 HR Missteps.
How to terminate someone the right way, according to an employment lawyer.
The importance of checking in
For HR and employers, keeping in touch with an injured or ill worker is paramount, she says.
“It’s important to keep some level of engagement. I wouldn’t be following up with the employee in that circumstance every month or even every two months but definitely check in on them. You want to keep that engagement. All the statistics show that the more a person is engaged, the more likely they are to return to work.”
With all of the turmoil in the world of work over the past few years, this has been matched in Ontario courts, according to Siedlak, which means employment agreements that were lawful previously might not be in compliance today, which is another huge mistake made by HR.
“Unfortunately, what’s happened really in Ontario the last few years is there’s been a lot of case law that developed surrounding employment agreements, and specifically surrounding termination provisions and bonus provisions, and the courts have taken a very critical look at the way that these are drafted. he net result has been that it’s been validated a lot of contracts and invalidated a lot of termination clauses that were in effect,” she says.
How HR should deal with progressive discipline and performance management, misclassifying independent contractors and “failing to properly handle discrimination and harassment complaints that are coming through the door,” says Siedlak in wrapping up some of the most egregious mistakes that are generally made by HR in the latest edition of CHRR Talk.