While job-protected leaves are generous, the reality is that in cases of illness or trauma an employee may not be ready to return to work once their leave is up. Their health may not have adequately recovered, or they may be too traumatized to return to full duties.
If the employer has disability benefits available, the employee may be eligible for short-term or long-term disability payments. Employees often forget that disability is not just an injury to their physical body, but also includes mental health issues including anxiety and depression. Employees can speak with their physician about whether they think that they may be eligible for disability benefits. Insurance companies are quick to deny benefit claims, however disability lawyers frequently work with those individuals to fight insurance companies and get benefits claims properly instated.
Alternatively, larger employers might offer some sort of additional leave of absence policy, or may be able to work with the employee on a gradual return to some form of modified duties. If there is no other recourse available and an employee is simply not able to return to work then an employee may be forced to resign their position, or the employer may be able to terminate their employment contract due to ‘frustration’ – a legal scenario where one party can simply no longer perform a contract. Both of those scenarios are extreme however, and employers and employees should consult with us before considering that option.