From the VIUFA Terms of Reference:
- representing the Association at meetings of their FPSE Committee; and
- reporting back to the Association Executive about the activities and decisions of their FPSE Committee.
- Create an awareness of worker disability issues among VIUFA members;
- Sit on the local Joint Rehabilitation Committee, or equivalent [referred to by VIU as the Return to Work Committee] (“JRC/RTWC”);
- Attend FPSE meetings of the Disability Management & Rehabilitation Committee as scheduled, and participate in training offered;
- Actively work to promote the accommodation and meaningful reintegration of disabled and injured VIUFA members back into the workplace;
- Assist VIUFA members with their sick leave claims and appeals;
- Work with other committees, especially the Joint Occupational Health & Safety Committee, to gather and disseminate information about rehabilitation, duty to accommodate, and disability management;
- Recommend contract language on rehabilitation, duty to accommodate, and disability management to negotiating committees, for incorporation into collective agreements;
- Be familiar with the Faculty Common Disability Plan (“FCDP”) as it pertains to disability claims and return to work plans;
- Educate VIUFA members about the FCDP, and their rights and responsibilities during the disability/return to work process;
- Attend all regularly scheduled meetings of the local Joint Rehabilitation Committee;
- Review cases/applications sent to the JRC/RTWC in order to provide advice and/or make recommendations to the employer regarding job modifications, scheduling flexibility, and/or mechanical or technical aids which could assist a member’s return to work;
- Work with the member, the insurer, the employer, the physician, and the member’s supervisor to create an appropriate graduated return to work plan;
- Advocate for members and ensure that members’ concerns regarding any return to work plan are voiced and heard;
- On occasion, to assist in the implementation of return to work plans as necessary;
- Serve on the Claims Review Committee as required;
- Attend Executive and General Membership Meetings;
- Represent VIUFA on other committees or at meetings as requested by the President and VIUFA Executive; and
- Report at Executive meetings and the Annual General Meeting.
1 Section of Release
When VIUFA faculty members become ill, they may need to access Short- or Long-term disability through our benefits carrier, Manulife Financial.
Anna Atkinson is the member of VIUFA’s executive whose role is to assist and advocate for members who are accessing these benefits. Technically, she is called the “DMRC Rep,” short for “Disability Management and Rehabilitation Committee Representative.” This means she sits on the DMRC with other representatives from institutions in our sector under the umbrella of FPSE, and liaises directly with the branch of Human Resources at VIU that administers our benefits program.
Anna has been trained in this position, and can offer members advice and advocacy at several points in the process of applying for disability benefits, as well as with appeals if benefits are denied. Below are a few of the ways Anna can assist both faculty and their supervisors.
At the outset of the process, Anna can clarify how the process works, assist with paperwork of the application, and offer advice regarding information from doctors. She may be able to suggest services (such as Best Doctors) which could assist not only with the application process but also with a return to wellness. She can also answer questions from Deans regarding how best to support faculty who find themselves in need of disability leave.
During the application process Anna can help members understand how the process’s timelines work, and assist members in keeping apprised of the status of their application.
In the event that an application is denied Anna can assist with putting together an appeal, and can ensure that the denial of benefits did not occur because of miscommunication, or because process was not properly followed. She has been successful in helping to rectify some circumstances in which members were wrongly denied disability benefits.
During the return to work process Anna can meet with members to ensure that proper procedures are followed by Manulife, VIU, and the member. This in turn helps to ensure that the return to work is safe and successful. She can also act as a representative for members, and can advocate for, and advise in the implementation of, any accommodations that members may need in their return.
Members who are on Long Term Disability may have special concerns as they approach what is known as the “Change of Definition Date.” Anna can answer questions about this, and also offers advice and advocacy through the Change of Definition process.