3 options with my employer after 2 years unpaid leave, need advice

As of the end of this month, my unpaid leave of absence from work due to illness will be up. My employer will be giving me 3 options:

  1. Take medical retirement.
  2. Return to work with physician’s approval.
  3. Request that management approve an extension of my unpaid leave, which requires forms from my doctor about my prognosis and ability to return to work. This is based on the expectation that I will be able to return at some point in the future, which is pretty much my situation - my condition is such that I have been on extended leave and am still currently unable to perform in a reliable and meaningful capacity, but it is expected that my condition could improve or even resolve once the right treatment is found. It is not degenerative or incurable, it has just been chronic and we are still exploring options.

Obviously the 3rd option is what I want to request - I would very much want to keep my status as an employee. My supervisor did mention however that if management approved an extension, I would then need to deal with my insurer to see if they would extend my LTD disability benefits beyond 2 years.

At 2 years the ‘definition’ for LTD changes from ‘own’ to ‘any’ occupation. I’m not sure why my LTD would particularly depend on my employer extending my leave, as long as I meet the definition? The fact is that my condition has been severe and prolonged for 2 years, and if by chance I find the right treatment in say 6 months, that would be fantastic, but until then I am unable to work in any capacity.

Has anyone else had to ask for an extension to unpaid leave through their employer at this point? And if so, how did it affect your LTD?

I don’t want to have to medically retire to preserve my LTD benefit when my job is so important to me to retain for the future, but should my LTD be cut off, I can’t say when I’d be able to return and how I would manage in the meantime with no income. I spent a year and a half and eventually sued to get my LTD, I really don’t want another big fight just a few short months after getting everything settled.

You’re receiving LTD so why do you consider that unpaid leave?

An employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason and it sounds like you’re in a union. Having a guaranteed 2 years is pretty good.

Maybe your employer will only extend your leave if you qualify for LTD.
I don’t think the insurance company would care what the employer thinks.
I’m just guessing, I think you need a legal opinion but I would just go for option #3 and if your employer terminates you earlier than they say they will, you can probably sue. (maybe bad advice if you don’t have a real policy).

LTD should be separate from the employer.
Maybe you have a plan where LTD is paid by the employer but administered by the insurance company.
Ask the insurance company if they just administer the LTD or if it is a real insurance policy.

I personally don’t consider it unpaid leave, but to my employer’s definition it is Leave Without Pay. I suppose because they aren’t personally paying me (the insurance co pays my LTD directly to me). My supervisor may not be accurate in saying they are connected, hopefully it will be clarified in the documentation I get.

Yes, 2 years is great, but obviously being made to leave at any time isn’t what a person wants. It is what I see as my career, and that’s a bitter pill. Plus being without benefits is a huge deal were that to happen - I have no idea how I would pay for my prescriptions alone, as some of them are in the hundreds per month. The provincial drug plan would take awhile to get into place.

I would definitely get the free consult.
I think 2 years is a borderline human rights issue if they let you go while on LTD and they were told to expect you to return.
I hope the documentation you get clears it up and lets you figure it out.

Thanks, I had a great lawyer for my LTD case which I won in February, however the meaty part if this issue is with the employer, so I’m not sure that it falls under his scope. I’ll shoot him an email regardless.