Definition - What does Chronic Illness mean?
A chronic illness is a persistent health condition that often features dormant or recurring symptoms accompanied by an irreversible prognosis, inducing both mental and physical constraints that predispose individuals to disabilities or functional impairments. For many individuals, chronic illnesses can provoke debilitating bouts of stress where therapeutic interventions, support groups, and open-ended communication with a physician are conducive aspects to an improved quality of life.
SureHire explains Chronic Illness
A host of chronic illnesses exist, including but not limited to: arthritis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), depression, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. All of these conditions carry a detrimental health risk. Employers should be prepared to consider how they can help employees grappling with such illnesses to meet essential job tasks.
In Canada, employers are hard-pressed between sustaining human privacy rights laws and preserving a safe workplace environment, balancing cases of reported chronic illnesses interpreted as a disability while, concurrently, granting reasonable accommodations to avoid potential discrimination suits. Provided that the Ontario Human Right Code stipulates relatively loose guidelines for accommodating individuals before encroaching on undue hardship restrictions, it is imperative for employers to coordinate a plan with applicants/employees and medical practitioners surrounding chronic illnesses. Some suggested practices include incorporating ergonomic workstations, assistive device provisions, and employee assistance program (EAP) recommendations aligned with provincial jurisdictions to support individuals dealing with a chronic illness.