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Returning to Work


There are a number of factors for people with episodic disabilities to consider when contemplating a return to work. Some of these include:

  • Determining if you are looking for full-time or part-time work;
  • Access to stable income and medical supports and drug benefits;
  • Access to supports outside of the workplace, including transportation and childcare;
  • Ability to perform the job duties consistently over time;
  • Job skills upgrading;
  • Disclosure of your episodic disability;
  • The organizational culture; and
  • Workplace accommodation.

Whether you’re looking for a new job or returning to an old one, reviewing these issues and knowing how to address them will help ensure a smoother and more seamless return to the workforce.

Tips to assist with a return to work include:

  • Ask for help when you need it — learning (or relearning) to do a job is a stressful process, regardless of whether or not you have an episodic disability, so accept that it will take time and get the help you need when you need it.
  • Tell your manager or human resources practitioner earlier rather than later if you start to experience challenges, or require additional supports. This will help resolve problems before they become more difficult.
  • Remember that your job requires you to be able to do core job functions consistently over time. Some day-to-day variation may happen, which is acceptable — this is the reason for the duty to accommodate.


Q - How will I know if working is right for me?

A - Volunteering is a great way to find out more about an organization and about you. Not only can you set your own hours but you can also have some say in the types of job activities that you take on. Volunteering also decreases social isolation and provides structure in the life of someone who is thinking about returning to work.

Speak with a doctor and/or medical team before attempting a return to work.

Where possible, look for a position that you enjoy. You are more likely to find satisfaction in a job that you enjoy.

If you are on a disability benefit and would like to volunteer, speak with an income support specialist to find out what impacts volunteering may have on your income support benefit.

Q - How do I learn more about the culture of a workplace?

A - There are several ways to learn about the culture before you accept a position with an organization. Below are several options:

  • Check the company website, what values they discuss, what is their mission statement, what issues/causes they support.
  • Speak with staff who work there and ask their opinion on working in the organization.
  • Arrange for an information interview with a representative of the organization. Information interviews are a way to ask questions of an organization before applying for a job. To arrange an information interview, call the company and ask for a human resources representative. Ask the representative for an opportunity for a brief information interview (usually 20-30 min). Bring a business card if you have one. These are not job interviews, and you must take care to avoid making them appear to be interviews. You should not take a resume. If asked to send one, you should do so promptly.


Sponsored By:
Mac AIDs Fund Logo
This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program – Disability component.

Realize (formerly CWGHR) also acknowledges the financial support of the Public Health Agency of Canada.
The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the Public Health Agency of Canada