Communication with employee during leave

What is a reasonable amount of communication to require of an employee on paid or unpaid leave? Would it be different if there is a specific return-to-work date compared to an open-ended leave?
By Stuart Rudner
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 10/30/2013

Question: What is a reasonable amount of communication to require of an employee on paid or unpaid leave? Would it be different if there is a specific return-to-work date compared to an open-ended leave?

Answer: The answer to this question will depend significantly upon the nature of the leave in question. For example, If the employer has agreed to a six-month unpaid leave with a fixed return date, then there would be no reason to expect regular communication. If the employee is on parental leave, then there is no obligation for the employee to remain in regular communication, other than to confirm the return date if it will be different than the default pursuant to legislation.

Conversely, if the employee is on medical leave without a scheduled return date, then it is incumbent upon the employee to remain in regular communication with the employer and update it on her condition. Many employers fail to follow up and ensure this occurs. I work with employers to establish a communication process or protocol and make sure the employee is aware she is required to provide regular updates with respect to her condition and, in particular, the limitations upon her ability to carry out her job-related duties.