Your rights as an employee diagnosed with dementia

Your rights as an employee diagnosed with dementia

Before you make a decision about whether or not to stay in or leave your workplace or the workforce, it is very important that you know your rights as an employee. These rights are equally important when you are in the workplace as when you are transitioning out of the workplace.

Dementia is a progressive disease – making it important that you stay in contact with a doctor because you will need to leave the workplace at some point. However, depending on your symptoms and the type of work you do, it may be possible to stay in your workplace or potentially a different role or place in the workforce for some time.

If you are interested in staying in your workplace but require some time off to process your diagnosis or manage some immediate health challenges, you may be eligible for a job-protected leave. Alberta employers have an obligation to provide eligible employees job-protected leaves for various personal matters. These leaves, which can include personal and family responsibility leave and long-term illness and injury leave offer Alberta employees time off without fear of losing their employment.

If you are interested in staying in your workplace but require some changes to your role or work environment, then you may be eligible for workplace accommodations. Alberta employers have an obligation under the Alberta Human Rights Act to support you, within reason, to fairly and equally participate in the workplace if you are living with dementia. The protections include workplace accommodations as long as they do not cause your employer undue hardship, such as high financial costs or a serious disruption to the business.

It is important to understand that available workplace accommodations will depend on your specific situation. In some circumstances, workplace accommodations may require you to change your work hours and routines, learn to use new equipment, or even take on a new job role.

Your employer may request medical information from you to:

  • confirm an absence from work for medical reasons;
  • decide if you are fit to return to work after a medical absence;
  • understand your restrictions and limitations to assist in finding an appropriate accommodation;
  • explore the type of accommodations that would be reasonable for you; and
  • decide whether it can offer you accommodations.

If you are asked to share medical information that is not related to your job responsibilities or an accommodation (e.g., a request to share your diagnosis), you may choose not to release it. For more information about responding to requests for medical information in Alberta workplaces, visit the Alberta Human Rights Commission’s Obtaining and Responding to Medical Information in the Workplace Human Rights Guide or call the Commission’s confidential information line toll-free by dialing 310-0000 and entering 780-427-7661 when prompted.


Accessing workplace accommodations

Different types of workplace accommodations

Job Role

  • Some of your job duties may be able to be assigned to another person.
  • You may be able to transfer to a different role that you are able to carry out more easily.
  • You may be able to reduce your work hours or change them to times when you feel at your best.
  • You may be able to gain flexibility in your schedule so you can make time to see your doctor or go to other appointments.

Supervisory and Collegial Support

  • You may be able to ask your supervisor if they or a colleague can be your ongoing support if you are uncertain about something or lack confidence.
  • You may be able to establish frequent or more frequent check-ins with your supervisor to discuss how you are feeling, your performance, and opportunities for support.
  • You may be able to request all verbal instructions or information shared are accompanied by written information.
  • Your employer may be able to provide you access to employer-offered programs or support or even time off to attend community-based programs or supports, such as those related to health services, financial and retirement planning, legal advice, and dementia services.
  • You may be able to request that your employer arrange information-sharing or training related to working people with dementia, or allow you to share your experience with your colleagues.

Working Environment

  • If noise bothers you, ask your employer if they can add soundproofing or visual barriers to reduce distractions.
  • Identify quiet areas to work or take a break.
  • Ask if any modifications can be made to equipment or technology you use on a regular basis.
  • Ask to modify instructions, reference manuals, and other materials so they are easier to understand. This could be a visual or content adjustment.