Labour & Employment Law Blog

Can My Employer Fire Me While I am on Sick Leave?

Zeilikman Law

Zeilikman Law

Case Summary

Being sick can cause a lot of turmoil in one’s personal and professional life. For example, a person can often go on sick leave for an indeterminate period of time depending on their illness which may or may not result in big unexpected changes for their employer. So what is the employer or employee to do? Should the employer keep the job available for the employee to attend to once they return from sick leave? Can they fire the employee and hire another person to do the job?

The short answer is: “it depends.” The employer should be very careful when they decide to terminate a sick employee who has been away. Sometimes an employer would try to argue that the employment contract has been “frustrated” or “abandoned” and that the employment relationship should be treated as at an end prior to the employee’s return. However, in addition to complex common law principles the employer’s obligations in such circumstances always have to be looked at in light of Ontario’s human rights laws that essentially state that the employer has a duty to accommodate an employee who is sick or ill until the point of “undue hardship”. This means that the employer may have to take reasonable steps to accommodate an employee upon the employee’s anticipated return to work by, for example, modifying his or her duties, formulating a different schedule or waiting for the employee to recover and reinstate them to their position. Though not impossible, it could be hard for the employer to treat the employment relationship as at an end without having to compensate the employee, sometimes substantially.

When analyzing an employee’s return to work rights it is important to note that the length of the allowable leave of absence may vary depending on the circumstances. In one instance it may be appropriate to permit a short absence and in another it may be appropriate to allow the employee’s leave of absence to last for months or even years.

With all of the above being said, employees need to understand that saying “I am sick,” may not be enough to justify not coming back to work. Often the employer requires reasonable explanation as to what accommodation the employee requires and what the expected return-to-work date is. This explanation will usually come from the employee’s physician in writing. So the employee should be prepared to frankly apprise the employer of their needs including providing the employer with adequate notes from their physicians if their workplace interests are to be properly considered.

The above article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have concerns with regard to the foregoing issues, please make an appointment with one of our lawyers or a qualified legal practitioner elsewhere.

The above article is for general information purposes only, does not constitute legal advice or create a solicitor-client relationship. Because each case is unique and factually driven, if you have concerns with regard to the foregoing issues, please make an appointment with one of our lawyers or a qualified legal practitioner elsewhere. We represent clients in the Greater Toronto Area including Toronto, North York, Markham, Vaughan, Thornhill, Newmarket, Aurora, Brampton, Mississauga, Barrie, Ajax, Whitby, Pickering and Oshawa.

Legal Receptionist

Zeilikman Law is an employment law firm located in Vaughan, Ontario. We are looking to hire a legal receptionist to join our firm. Preference will be given to candidates who have experience working as a receptionist at another law firm.

Location: Vaughan, Ontario.

Start Date: Immediately.

Hours: Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. Full time. In-person only. This is not a remote work position.

Wages: 35,000 to 40,000 per year.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Manage our firm’s multi-line telephone system to receive incoming calls.  Screen incoming telephone call inquiries to determine the nature of the telephone call and provide standard information related to our legal services.  Take and deliver messages and route incoming telephone calls to the appropriate staff person.
  • Answer general inquiries coming from the firm’s social media and website email.
  • Welcome in-person visitors upon arrival.  Direct visitors to the appropriate staff person and / or office or boardroom.
  • Organize in-person visitor schedule to prevent overlap and multiple bookings.
  • Receive, sort, and distribute daily mail and deliveries.
  • Arrange for couriers.
  • Keep front reception, kitchenette area and boardroom tidy.
  • Perform various clerical duties such as filing, photocopying, and faxing on an as-needed basis.
  • Process client or other payments.
  • May be asked to run minor errands outside of office such as attending post office to arrange a courier or pick up mail.
  • May be asked to assist other law clerks or lawyers of the firm as required and as appropriate.
  • Any other basic administrative duties or tasks as deemed appropriate.

Required Skills:

  • Basic knowledge of general office procedures including filing, faxing, and printing and copying.
  • Basic word processing computer skills.
  • Proficient in receptionist and telephone practices, etiquette, and decorum.
  • Professional attitude and appearance.
  • Excellent organizational skills.
  • Positive customer service attitude is a must.
  • Must be able to maintain confidential and sensitive information.

Education and Experience:

  • Highschool diploma or equivalent.
  • 1 – 2 years’ experience in an office setting with an emphasis in accounting, reception or clerical work is required.   We would prefer experience in a law firm environment.

Applications for this position should be sent via email to jennifer@zeilikmanlaw.com. All applications should include a cover letter, resume and at least two references. Only successful candidates will be contacted.