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Return to work after a work-related injury or illness

A worker who has suffered an employment injury may return to work when they are fit to work again and are able to do their job, an equivalent job or a suitable job. The employer must reinstate the worker in their company, even after the period for exercising their right to return to work has expired.
The employer must cooperate in efforts to reintegrate the worker into their workplace. 

Exercising the right to return to work 

A worker who has been absent because of an employment injury may exercise their right to return to work:

  • within 1 year following the period of absence for establishments with 20 or fewer workers
  • within 2 years following the period of absence for establishments with 21 workers or more

A collective agreement applicable to the worker may provide for a longer period than the period of 1 or 2 years provided for in the Act. In this case, the period for exercising the right to return to work is that provided for in the collective agreement.

Fixed-term employment contract

A worker who was bound by a fixed-term contract on the date they suffered an employment injury and who becomes able to do their job again has the right to be reinstated in their job and to hold it until the date their contract expires.

Different ways to return to work 

The following measures can be implemented to help reintegrate the worker into their workplace: 

Prior to healing or stabilization of the employment injury

  • The employer may propose a temporary assignment to the worker. The temporary assignment must be approved by the attending health professional.
  • The CNESST may implement rehabilitation measures to allow the worker to develop their ability to gradually resume their duties 

After healing or stabilization of the employment injury

  • The CNESST may provide for the gradual return to work of a worker who is capable of doing their job, an equivalent job or a suitable job that is available if the period of absence or the situation warrants it in order to facilitate their reintegration with their employer. The gradual return is offered when the CNESST renders a decision on ability to work.
  • The CNESST may implement rehabilitation measures, such as adapting a work station when a worker is unable to do their job because they have functional limitations. These measures are used to enable the worker to do their job or an equivalent job with their employer.
  • If there is no rehabilitation measure that will enable the worker to do their job or an equivalent job, the CNESST may implement a rehabilitation measure such as vocational training to enable them to do a suitable job that is available with their employer. 

The CNESST may also implement other measures with the employer that do not modify the job, such as:

  • adapting tasks 
  • modifying the schedule 
  • modifying the organization of work 

Throughout the process, the employer can demonstrate that the measures implemented in their establishment impose undue hardship (in French only) on them.  
 

Laws and regulations

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