Occupational vs. Non-Occupational Disability and Disability Management and Accommodation

Employers of varying size are managing both occupational and non-occupational absences. Some employers are required to maintain coverage with their provincial Workers Compensation Board, while others maintain coverage voluntarily or do not cover employees for occupational injuries/accidents at all.

Management of claims whether occupational or non-occupational should not differ, depending on what caused the illness or injury. There are however, varying requirements under legislation, different policies that are related to absence and disability management depending on whether an illness or injury is or is not related to the workplace.


Occupational Illness or Injuries are managed under the Government Employees Compensation Act, which uses the provincial Workers� Compensation system to adjudicate work related claims and provide rehabilitation and a variety of other services including wage replacement benefits.

All occupational disabilities including cases of psychological injury and mental stress arising from an event at work are covered across Canada with the exception of the Province of Quebec.

Non-occupational disabilities – that is, those cases of illness, injury or medical conditions of both a physical and psychological nature not related to work – are managed with pursuant to legislation, formal employer policies, in some cases collective agreements and other arrangements which are established by insurance companies who insure employees covered by both short and long-term disability plans.

Accommodation and Recovery:

The differences between occupational and non-occupational illness and injury are most relevant in terms of rehabilitation, accommodation and support for recovery. These differences affect the services and benefits available to disabled employees. In terms of accommodating an employee, the difference has little to no impact on employees in terms of what can and ultimately should be done to assist them stay at work or in assisting during a graduated return to work.

Occupational Disabilities: Reporting accidents and illnesses that are directly related to the workplace is strictly regulated by Provincial Workers� Compensation Boards. Each Board has a specific set of requirements for work related accident and illness reporting that must be adhered to be all employers. Employees are also responsible for completion of specifics when a claim is being considered.

Non-Occupational Disabilities: Claims requirements either related to insurer specifics for short and/or long-term disability, or employer requirements related to self-insured absence plans must be adhered to by both employees and employers alike. In the case of self-insured plans whether they be sick day plans or formal short or long-term disability plans, employers may have claim forms for both employees and their treating physicians that are required to be completed either before approval of the payment of sick time or in order to continue paying salaried benefits.

Return to Work:

Return to work from occupational and non-occupational injuries and illnesses is managed in part by the employer, in part by the employee, and depending on the nature of the disability in conjunction with the Provincial Workers� Compensation Board.

Often employers with formal self-insured plans will employ the services of an internal Return to Work Committee, in conjunction with other professional sometimes including the employee�s treating physician in an attempt to gradually reintroduce employees to the workplace and ensure a successful return to pre-disability work.


In summary, while occupational and non-occupational disabilities are derived from a difference source, there are aspects of each claim that are much the same. Certifying compliance with all Workers� Compensation and employer requirements will ensure a smooth claim process.

About A.R.S.

Assessment Rehabilitation Services, Inc. understands that employee absence, whether it be occupational or non-occupational is concerning to employers. More than ever, compliance with all aspects of disability management is key to managing a variety of absences in the workplace.

A.R.S. works with both public and private sector employers across the country to assist in managing both occupational and non-occupational claims.