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Right to return to work

After being absent for several weeks

A worker’s employment relationship is protected when they have to be absent for several weeks for family-related events, owing to a non–work-related accident or illness, for organ or tissue donation, owing to domestic violence, sexual violence or a criminal offence or to take care of a relative.

When the worker returns, the employer must reinstate them in their former position with the wages and benefits they would have been entitled to had they remained at work.

If their position has been abolished, the worker retains the same rights and privileges they would have been entitled to had they remained at work.

These provisions must not give the worker a benefit they would not have been entitled to had they remained at work.

If the worker continues to contribute to the various group insurance and pension plans during their absence, the employer must do likewise.

Right to return to work after a work-related injury or illness

A worker who has a work-related injury or illness is entitled to be reinstated in his job as a priority.

If the worker's position no longer exists when they return to work, the employer must find them an equivalent job, with no reduction in wages.

The employer may modify the tasks or adapt the worker’s position if they are no longer able to perform their job owing to permanent damage caused by their injury or illness. If this is not possible, the employer must offer them the first suitable job available. 

Criteria for suitable work

The objective of the worker's rehabilitation process is to find a lasting return-to-work solution. To achieve this objective, the criteria for suitable work set out in the la Loi sur les accidents du travail et les maladies professionnelles must be taken into account, while ensuring the wages are as close as possible to the pre-injury earnings.

For a job proposed by the employer to be considered suitable by the CNESST, the job must: 

  • be appropriate for the worker's situation, their working conditions and their earning potential 
  • allow the worker to use their remaining ability to work, that is, what they are capable of doing given their functional limitations 
  • recognize the worker’s vocational qualifications 
  • be sustainable in the company and be available elsewhere on the labour market 
  • not endanger the worker’s health, safety or physical well-being, considering their injury 

Obligation to accommodate the worker

The employer must show that they have made real and reasonable efforts to reinstate a worker in their organization. If they are unable to reinstate the worker, the employer must prove that there is a major barrier to accommodations.

Laws and regulations

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