KFActs: Accommodations, Short-Term Disability, and Manulife

By Rachelle Hollaway, Member-at-Large

This article will help you understand the role that Manulife plays in some accommodation requests and all Short-Term Disability claims. For general information about 30 days’ sick leave, short-term disability, and long-term disability, please read “What If I Get Sick? Sick Leave, and Short-term and Long-term Disability Leaves.”


You have rights under the British Columbia Human Rights Code for accommodations:

13   (1) A person must not

(a) refuse to employ or refuse to continue to employ a person, or

(b) discriminate against a person regarding employment or any term or condition of employment because of the Indigenous identity, race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, political belief, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or age of that person or because that person has been convicted of a criminal or summary conviction offence that is unrelated to the employment or to the intended employment of that person.

The following is from the BC Human Rights Tribunal:

The Human Rights Code forbids discrimination in employment. Discrimination is poor treatment, based on a personal characteristic. If the person can justify the poor treatment, then there is no discrimination. The Code protects you in employment based on these personal characteristics.

Indigenous Identity  Place of Origin Physical Disability Age
Race Sex Mental Disability  Political Belief
Colour Gender Identity or Expression Marital Status Religion
Ancestry Sexual Orientation Family Status Summary or Criminal Conviction

Employers and others have a duty not to discriminate regarding employment. This includes a duty to take all reasonable steps to avoid a negative effect based on a personal characteristic. This is called the duty to accommodate.

When you request an accommodation, your dean may direct you to KPU’s Health and Benefits division. Health and Benefits may subsequently direct you to Manulife.

As part of the accommodation process, you will be asked to provide information about your situation and the type of accommodation you are requesting. While you are never required to share private medical information with any employer, including KPU, if you are seeking an accommodation, you will need to provide sufficient medical information for the Employer to understand your restrictions and limitations related to your job duties. Health and Benefits may also request Manulife to assist in accommodation requests. In these cases, Manulife will ask your doctor to submit forms that will include diagnoses. Your doctor may be required to submit further diagnostic information and clinical notes.

The KFA has filed a grievance on aspects of the accommodations process. Our goal is that the parties come to an agreement on a legally sound, fair, and dignified accommodations process.

When you initiate the accommodation process, your dean or your Health and Benefits representative may not tell you to contact the KFA. However, it is crucial that you do so. A KFA Table Officer can help you navigate Manulife’s processes. For example, Manulife may contact you to ask how you are doing. This may seem like a friendly conversation to get to know you, but the conversation serves as an intake interview that is cross-referenced against the medical documents submitted by your doctor. A KFA Table Officer can help you understand the purpose of these interactions. If your accommodation is denied, a Table Officer can also help you with the appeals process.

Short Term Disability Benefits

You have access to 30 days of sick leave paid at 100% by KPU. If your medical condition is such that you may be unable to work for longer than 30 days, it is important to begin the application process with Manulife for Short Term Disability coverage within the first two weeks of your 30 days sick leave coverage.

If you indicate to your dean or Health and Benefits representative that you think you will need more than 30 days, and you begin the process of completing the Manulife forms (from yourself and from your doctor), then your Health and Benefits representative will pair you with a KFA representative from the Faculty Joint Rehabilitation Committee (FJRC).

It is very important to meet with your KFA FJRC representative before you talk with Manulife. As mentioned above, your case manager may ask you several questions that seem like a friendly way to get to know you better, but this conversation serves as an intake interview that is cross-refenced against the medical documentation submitted by your doctor. Be sure to ask your KFA faculty rep about how to navigate this intake interview and other paperwork required while applying for Short-Term Disability. This will help reduce the chances that your claim is denied by Manulife. If your claim is denied by Manulife, then your KFA FJRC representative will help you through the appeals process.

The crucial point to remember is that once Manulife is involved, you need to have a union representative help you through the process, whether that be a Table Officer for an accommodation or a KFA Faculty Joint Rehabilitation representative for an application for short-term disability coverage.

If you have any questions about Manulife, sick leaves, or short or long-term disability coverage, please contact the KFA.