Parkinson’s Disease and Work: Your Rights and Obligations - Financial Resources
You can continue working despite your Parkinson’s disease diagnosis. You and your employer have rights and obligations towards one another. Financial resources are available if you are no longer able to work.
Beyond the financial benefits, work can enrich our lives and help us build a social life with our colleagues. The disease can affect your professional life, but it is entirely possible to continue working after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Your ability to keep your job depends on the seriousness of your symptoms and the range of tasks required of you. Some people continue working long after their diagnosis while others opt for work accommodations or part-time employment. Some also have to stop working after a few years.
As an employee, you have rights and obligations towards your employer. You will have to collaborate to find the best conditions for your job retention. If you are no longer able to work, you are entitled to financial resources to help support you.
Whether you want to share your diagnosis with your employer and colleagues is up to you. You have no legal obligation to disclose your diagnosis in your work environment.
Many people prefer to be discreet as long as they are not limited in their tasks. Eventually, their symptoms will become visible and suspicious to their colleagues.
Talking about your diagnosis with your employer and colleagues can be a relief for everybody depending on the relationships you have with them. These discussions can lead to work accommodations. They can also reassure your colleagues and employer about your ability to continue working properly and with confidence.
Your situation is unique and so is the way you will approach the subject with your employer and colleagues. Think carefully about when and how you will do this. In any case, you will likely need to educate them and address many misconceptions, especially those associated with the age of the disease’s appearance.
It may be useful to prepare yourself by writing an argumentative text addressing the following points:
- Facts about your diagnosis (the date and development of symptoms up to now)
- The unique and personal nature of Parkinson’s disease (neither you nor your doctor know how quickly the disease will progress)
- How your symptoms may affect your work tasks and relationships with colleagues
- What you are willing to share with others
During these conversations, take your time and be yourself. Stress could increase the symptoms and therefore the potential negative perception your interlocutors have.
According to the Civil Code of Quebec, you must provide work performance documentation, meaning the quantity and quality of the work for which you are paid.
Sharing your diagnosis with your employer and letting them know of your constraints throughout the progression of the diseases will help you find appropriate accommodations together.
You can take time off due to your disease, but you may have to provide a medical certificate to your employer to justify your absences.
Your employer must offer you reasonable accommodations so you can complete your work tasks without causing excessive constraint.
Every situation calls for different solutions. These may include:
- Changing your work schedule
- Working part-time
- Taking time off for medical reasons
- Arranging your workstation accordingly
- Modifying your work tasks and duties
The acceptance of accommodation measures required varies according to several factors, including the nature of the business, its economic capacity, the activities it carries out, and the level of accommodation required.
Your employer technically cannot terminate your employment because of your disease. You are protected by the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms since it includes Parkinson’s disease as a disability.
Nevertheless, there are situations where your employer may justify terminating your employment despite the fact that you have a disability. For example, if:
- The proper functioning of the business is excessively hindered due to the characteristics of your disability
- Your employer has tried to find appropriate accommodations with you, but you are still unable to perform your work in the reasonably foreseeable future
- You have an excessive absence rate with no possibility of improvement in the reasonably foreseeable future
- You do not work with your employer to agree on reasonable accommodations
Employee discrimination based on a disability means treating an employee differently from others because of their disability or how they deal with it. It can also include not taking their personal characteristics into account at work.
Discrimination can take many forms and is not always obvious. Employee discrimination based on disability is prohibited by law before hiring, during employment, and upon termination of employment, if applicable. If you believe you are being discriminated against, you may file a complaint with the Commission des droits de la personne of Quebec .
If you are over 65 years old, you are not eligible for provincial and federal government disability benefits. However, you can receive your Quebec Pension Plan retirement pension and your Canada Old Age Security pension.
If you are still working, you may be eligible for sickness benefits from the federal government for a fixed amount of time.
If you are under 65 years old, you may be eligible for a disability pension and additional amount for disability from the provincial government. The federal government also offers a disability pension.
There are also other types of disability insurance, such as:
- Those offered by the employer’s benefits package
- Your own disability insurance
- Your credit insurance benefits (credit balance insurance, mortgage default protection insurance, other debt insurance)
Financial assistance is also available to help you with voluntary or early retirement.
If you need a temporary leave of absence from work to provide care or support (psychological or emotional support, arranging for the presence of another caregiver, or directly providing or participating in care) to a family member, you may be eligible for caregiving benefits by the Government of Canada.
Your caregiver is also eligible for a series of provincial and federal tax benefits .
These tax measures vary with time, and you may want to consult an accounting firm that specializes in disability tax credits.
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