Wednesday, April 11, 2018

"Advisor for studying abroad"/ stress leave

Jun. 5, 2017 "How do I become an advisor for studying abroad?": Today I found this article in the Globe and Mail:


I'm very interested in entering the field of study abroad as an adviser/program co-ordinator at a university, but have no direct advising experience (though plenty of other relevant experience). I am thinking that a valuable way to gain experience and know-how in the field would be by volunteering in a study-abroad office.

Would it be presumptuous to send an e-mail to the most appropriate person with a compelling cover letter and résumé offering to volunteer a few hours a week? Or is it more appropriate to ask for an informational interview first?


Colleen Clarke

Corporate trainer and principal,, Toronto

You are certainly on the right track in making inroads into your new career. It isn’t about appropriateness whether you send an e-mail or set up a meeting first, but an advice call is more direct with less wasted time and back-and-forthing with e-mails.

Approach a local university study-abroad department and ask for an advice call with the director explaining why you want to meet. You needn’t hide the fact you want to volunteer.

Nothing is more effective than a face-to-face meeting with a decision maker. With an advice call you will have a dialogue and can present ideas they may not have considered. You can dazzle and charm, show passion and explain the benefits of having you as a volunteer.

Be prepared to talk 30 per cent of the time, and listen 70 per cent. Have questions prepared so you only take 25 to 30 minutes of their time, and mention that timing in the phone call when you call to set the appointment.

Prepare a 90-second presentation about yourself with an example or two of your professional wonderment! Then ask, what would you suggest? Somewhere in the meeting talk about what you can do for them – the benefits they would derive in having you on board. Follow up with a thank-you card or letter.


Bruce Sandy

Principal, Pathfinder Coaching and Consulting, Vancouver

I understand and appreciate your interest in working in program advising with university study-abroad programs. It would be presumptuous to send an e-mail offering to volunteer for offices such as this.

If you send in a résumé and a cover letter prior to doing your research on these types of positions and the universities you are interested in potentially working for (even on a volunteer basis), then your résumé and cover letter will likely end up in the human resources’ or the supervisor’s filing cabinet (or worse, their garbage cans) and/or copied to the volunteer department.

Even prior to setting up an information interview, you need to do your research and background checks on adviser/program co-ordinator positions, the universities, the study-abroad or co-op programs and the hiring officials. Check out the career-openings section of the universities’ websites to find out about the qualifications and experience you need to be considered for these types of positions.

Also check to see if the universities have volunteer programs and if they use volunteers for office or promotional work. This is not likely, especially if this takes work away from paid unionized employees.

Once you have done your research then you can set up information interviews or simply start applying for advertised positions if you have the necessary qualifications and experience.

If you go for information interviews, remember to focus on building relationships with and gathering information from the university officials as well as what their challenges and hiring needs are.

Do not make it about you and what you are looking for. Also, only give them your résumé if they ask for it. One needs to build a relationship with potential supervisors and confirm that they are actually interested in you and your help prior to giving them your résumé.

Dec. 4, 2017 "I've been forced on leave because of stress.  Is that fair?": Today I found this article in the Globe and Mail:


My medical report stated, “Due to work- related stress, I recommend she work from home when possible or reduce hours … 50 per cent.”

My employer reacted by applying reduced hours for six weeks and a corresponding wage cut of 50 per cent. They did not consult me. Accommodations could have been put in place at work before forcing me on leave. Can they take this action based on a doctor’s recommendation, versus my ability to gauge what I need?


Bill Howatt

Chief research and development officer of work force productivity, Morneau Shepell, Toronto

Your situation appears to be in conflict with the expectations for accommodations set by the Canadian Human Rights Commission, specifically around three key tenets for how employers are expected to facilitate an accommodation: maximize the individual’s dignity, autonomy, privacy and integration into the workplace and the larger society; minimize discomfort or inconvenience; and address the individual’s needs most rapidly.

It appears that the spirit of your accommodations was imposed in a way that had an unintended consequence with respect to finances. Health- care providers supporting employees are asked by employees to fill in paperwork sent from their employer.

The purpose is to provide a medical reason and guidance for what the employer can do.

The employee and healthcare provider should work together to decide what they’re going to propose, be specific and evaluate the impact before sending it to the employer for consideration.

These are then used by the employer to consider what they can do for the employee, including workplace accommodations.

It appears there may have been some misunderstanding around defining your expectations . If your health- care provider had provided more guidance , it would have provided your employer with more parameters.


Daniel Lublin

Partner, Whitten & Lublin Employment &Labour Lawyers, Toronto

When you are off work for medical reasons, the employer need not pay your salary, unless it has a policy that requires it do so. Therefore, the issue is whether your employer is deliberately acting against your best interests by forcing you off work or whether it is simply following a doctor’s orders.

If this was the recommendation from your employer’s doctor and not your own, there certainly are grounds to challenge it. You have the right to have your own doctor assess your alleged medical limitations and assist in the process of determining whether and to what extent you are to required to work reduced hours.

However, if these are recommendations made by your own doctor and you feel the employer has not appropriately interpreted your doctor’s guidance, then you need to have your doctor provide a second letter clarifying the request.

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