Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions
- Board Directives and Guidelines (work reintegration) (relocation)
- Work reintegration (relocation)
A high school teacher was assaulted by a student in May 2007. The student subsequently threatened the workers life and was incarcerated. The Board granted the worker a 37% NEL award for post-traumatic stress disorder. The worker appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying reimbursement for expenses of relocation from northern Ontario to southern Ontario. The worker resumed teaching until the student was released from jail and returned to the worker's school. She laid off in October 2008 and returned to a reduced teaching load at the same school in September 2010. The employer wanted the worker to work full-time but the Board agreed with the worker that she was unable to do so. In February 2011, the worker was advised that she was one of three teachers being declared redundant due to declining enrollment. The worker suffered a recurrence and laid off. The Board accepted the recurrence. The worker was referred for work transition services and found employment as a high school teacher for another school board in southern Ontario. Board Operational Policy Manual, Document No. 19-03-11, on relocation services, states that the Board will offer relocation services if: permanent work-related restrictions require the worker to change jobs; there is no suitable occupation (SO) with the employer in the local labour market; there is no SO with the employer in the surrounding area within reasonable commuting distance; and the broader labour market offers greater employment prospects in the SO. If the worker receives a bona fide offer of employment in the broader labour market, the Board will pay appropriate relocation expenses. The employer submitted that the first requirement was not met in that the worker did not have permanent work-related restrictions requiring that she change jobs; rather, the relocation was the result of economic factors related to the redundancy notice. The Panel noted that the Board accepted that the worker was unable to work full time when she returned to work. The Board also granted entitlement for the recurrence in February 2011 when she laid off upon finding that her position was being declared redundant. The Board noted that the redundancy notice would not, in and of itself, be an allowable claim but there were other factors relating to her relationship with the employer that were related to her relapses. The Board also noted that teaching at that particular site did not appear to be suitable. There was only one high school in the worker's local labour market. Union rules prevented her from teaching at elementary schools. Due to distrust of the employer as a result of her condition, she would be unlikely to be able to work at another school with the employer. There was also no SO within a reasonable commuting distance. Considering the declining enrollment is her local labour market, the best opportunity for the worker to find suitable employment was in the broader labour market. In fact, she was successful in finding full-time employment in the broader labour market. The Panel concluded that the worker met the requirements of Board policy for relocation services and was entitled to reimbursement for her relocation expenses. The appeal was allowed.