An employer’s introduction of a new two-page sick leave
medical form did not violate the collective agreement, a labour
arbitrator has held.
The employer introduced the form in response to the increasing
costs of short-term disability claims and absences. The new policy
required that for absences greater than two days, the employee must
ask his or her physician to fill out a two-page medical form. The
form did not seek information regarding a diagnosis but did ask the
physician to indicate the date of the injury, whether it was
work-related or not, whether it had been reported to the Workplace
Safety and Insurance Board, and if the injury was work-related,
whether it was recurring. It also asked the physician to indicate
any physical or cognitive limitations as well as the expected
duration of those limitations and the expected return-to-work
The union argued that the medical form was simply too cumbersome
and bureaucratic. The employer noted that in simple cases, the
physician did not need to fill out the entire form, and there were
no repercussions to employees where the physician refsed to fill
out all or part of the form.
The arbitrator decided that the employer did have the right to
the information in the form. Also, given the increasing cost of STD
claims, it was reasonable for the employer to seek additional
information that could encourage earlier returns to work. Although
the form may be cumbersome, particularly for simple illnesses such
as the flu, there was no information in the form to which the
employer was not entitled. The employer was within its rights to
implement the new medical form.
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