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Privacy concerns when communicating with employers

As a health care provider treating an injured worker, your role includes communicating with the worker, the employer, and other relevant stakeholders when organizing and monitoring safe and timely return-to-work plans for the worker.

In all discussions with employers or third-party disability management companies, you must protect the injured worker’s right to privacy by adhering to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).

Questions to consider

To ensure you protect a worker’s right to privacy, consider the following questions before communicating with an employer or third-party disability management company.

Do I have the worker’s consent?

You should get consent from an injured worker before sharing information with their employer. This allows the injured worker to be part of the process and ensures they aren’t surprised when you speak with their employer.

Do I know the appropriate person to speak with?

You should ideally have the name of a specific person at the workplace to speak to about an injured worker’s return-to-work plan.

Does the employer need to know this?

The amount and type of information that can be disclosed to an employer about an injured worker is minimal. Examples of information the employer needs to know and that can be shared include:

  • When the worker is expected back to work (if known)
  • Will the worker benefit from light, modified, or transitional duties upon return to work (capabilities and relative timelines)
  • Anticipated return-to-work hours
  • What are the accepted, claim-related medical restrictions (when applicable)
  • What are the recommended return to work considerations (e.g., sit/stand stool or ergonomic chair, or using micro-breaks)

Is this level of detail required for the workplace?

You must not release information or details to the employer about the worker’s medical condition (e.g., diagnosis, surgery types, surgery dates, specialist appointments, or treatments).

Regular updates (unless something significant changes), information on specific specialists, and answers to questions like “What did the consult report say?” are also not to be shared with the employer. The employer doesn’t need to know names and roles of rehabilitation program staff or specialists unless those contact details are relevant for managing the injured worker’s return-to-work plan.


Please contact our Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Office if you have any questions about FIPPA.