In the event of a work accident or occupational disease, workers who are unable to perform the routine tasks of their job or to work their regular schedule because of an employment injury may be offered alternative work by their employer. This is called a temporary assignment.
A temporary assignment helps workers return to work even if their employment injury (injury or illness) has not yet healed or stabilized. It is temporary because it applies as long as the worker is unable to do their job or a suitable job given their condition.
Nature of the work that can be assigned
The work assigned must be different from the work performed at the time of the injury. The worker may be assigned to the same job but with modifications such as:
- a reduction in the number of tasks to be performed
- an adjustment of the workload, pace or intensity of the work
A temporary assignment can also be:
- another existing job in the company
- a job consisting of a set of tasks normally performed at different workstations
- a job created from a set of new tasks, productive for the company
The tasks must be compatible with the worker's physical or psychological condition, while also promoting their rehabilitation. This gradual return to work reduces the risk of relapse and the risk of the worker's illness or injury becoming chronic.
When an employer wants to offer a temporary assignment, they must provide the worker and their physician with a complete description of:
- the proposed position and the duration of the assignment
- the tasks to be performed and the workload
- the conditions of employment and work schedule
To facilitate this process, the employer can fill out the “Assignation temporaire d’un travail” form.
Who can authorize a temporary assignment?
A physician’s agreement is required for a worker to be authorized to do a temporary work assignment proposed by their employer. The physician must assess whether:
- the worker is able to do the work
- despite the worker’s employment injury, the work does not endanger their health, safety or physical well-being
- the work is beneficial to their rehabilitation
When these 3 conditions are met, the physician gives the worker their approval and sends the information to the employer. The employer may assign the worker to their new tasks immediately or at a future date. The employer and the worker must inform the CNESST of the temporary assignment.
If the worker disagrees with the temporary assignment because they believe that they are not reasonably able to perform the tasks they have been assigned, they may contest it.
Maintenance of employment benefits
The employer must pay a worker who is doing a temporary assignment the same wages and benefits as for their regular job or those they would have received had they continued to do their job normally.
Termination of a temporary assignment
The temporary assignment ends when the worker is fully able to do their regular job or a suitable job.
Interruption of a temporary assignment
The worker has an obligation to comply with their temporary assignment. Certain situations, whether work related or not, may interrupt the worker's temporary assignment. This interruption may affect the payment of the income replacement indemnity. The CNESST assesses each case and the appropriateness of suspending or maintaining the payment of the indemnity.