I’m Kate Dewhirst.

I’m a lawyer who writes about legal issues affecting healthcare in Canada

Kate Dewhirst Health Law - bringing the law to life. Meet Kate (in 13 seconds)

Professional Staff Leaves of Absence – is your hospital prepared?

Posted by

Does your hospital explain to your Professional Staff members the rules about taking a leave of absence?

Remember: Professional Staff members may include doctors, dentists, midwives and independent contractor nurse practitioners.

Since members of the Professional Staff are usually independent contractors and not employees of a hospital, they independently arrange for their colleagues to cover routine absences such as vacation and sick days. But how are longer term absences requested and approved? What are the rules?

More and more hospitals include a reference in their by-laws to a process whereby Professional Staff can request a leave of absence for extended time away relating to medical issues or disability; parental leave; and academic sabbaticals.

The OHA-OMA Hospital Prototype Board-Appointed Professional Staff  By-law includes sample language for hospitals to consider:

4.10 Leave of Absence

(1) Upon request of a member of the Professional Staff to the Chief of his or her Department, a leave of absence of up to twelve (12) months may be granted, after receiving the recommendation of the Medical Advisory Committee, by the Chief of Staff/Chair of the Medical Advisory Committee or delegate,

(a) in the event of extended illness or disability of the member, or

(b) in other circumstances acceptable to the Board, upon recommendation of the Chair of the Medical Advisory Committee or delegate.

(2) After returning from a leave of absence granted in accordance with subsection 4.10(1), the member of the Professional Staff may be required to produce a medical certificate of fitness from a physician acceptable to the Chief of Staff/Chair of the Medical Advisory Committee or delegate. The Chief of Staff/Chair of the Medical Advisory Committee or delegate may impose such conditions on the privileges granted to such member as appropriate.

(3) Following a leave of absence of longer than twelve (12) months, a member of the Professional Staff shall be required to make a new application for appointment to the Professional Staff in the manner and subject to the criteria set out in this By-law.

When writing policies to support the by-laws for Professional Staff leaves of absence, don’t forget to think about:

  • How requests are to be made (including cases where a Professional Staff member has an urgent request related to an unexpected illness or short-notice adoption of a child or where a Professional Staff member cannot personally make the request due to injury or disability)
  • Who has decision-making authority to grant a leave of absence
  • The criteria to be considered when granting or refusing a leave of absence
  • The individual’s duties prior to taking a leave of absence
  • The individual’s permissions, obligations and restrictions while on leave (for example, are they allowed to visit while on leave? can they keep their hospital email address? are they allowed to exercise their clinical privileges? Are they allowed to complete outstanding charting? what will happen to their administrative duties?)
  • How are leaves of absence reported to the regulatory body, insurer or indemnity provider
  • How do individuals request to be reinstated and what evidence or information is needed to process a request to return to practice (if any)

On a practical basis, medical leaders also need to think about a communications strategy relating to a Professional Staff member’s leave.  What will be shared with patients? colleagues?  What does the Professional Staff member want shared and with whom?  What must be reported and why? Your  communication strategy should cover exits and returns.  Make sure the Professional Staff member leads the discussion about how much personal information will be shared and how to best support the Professional Staff member on their departure and return.


If you enjoyed this article please share it:

Previous and next posts from Kate:

Some of Kate’s Upcoming events

Team Privacy Training Events

April 19, May 17, June 13

For Primary Care clinics and FHTs

Kate trains health professionals from another three primary care organizations how being privacy-respectful can improve therapeutic relationships. more details...

Where immigration and health law issues collide

April 25, 2018

Presentation to invited Community Health Centre clients

In collaboration with immigration lawyer Jacqueline Swaisland.

2018 Privacy Officer Training

May 8 to June 12, 2018

16 hours live and online training

for Privacy Officers and Privacy Officers-to-be. Live sessions held in Toronto. details and booking...

De-escalation training

May 16, 2018

Training session for a Toronto Family Health Team

In conjunction with leadership coach Christine Burych.

Ask me anything (about health privacy)

12 noon, May 23, 2018

An hour webinar with Kate where you can ask Kate any privacy-related questions you have.

Open to all health Privacy Officers. Register here.

Kate Dewhirst Health Law

Kate says:

My mission is bringing the law to life. I make legal theory understandable, accessible and fun! I’m available and love to work for all organizations in the healthcare sector across Ontario and beyond.

Subscribe to my mailing list and keep up to date with news:

Latest Tweets

A recent Canadian study published in the JAMA found that hospitals have a serious issue when it comes to throwing a… https://t.co/PVINxywro8

about 9 hours ago

What do #FamilyHealth teams need to know about #SocialMedia and the #Law? https://t.co/xRqEcF6d5Y #healthprivacy #FHTs #HealthLaw #employee

about 21 hours ago

[MAY 23] Register now for my “Ask Me Anything” webinar! Do you have privacy questions you want to ask me? This is y… https://t.co/R0bvs5h6JK

02:01 PM Apr 24th

contact details

901 King Street West Suite 400 East Tower
Toronto Ontario M5V 3H5

(416) 855 9557