Employer permitted to use “cumbersome” two-page sick leave medical form implemented after STD costs increase, arbitrator rules

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 date.

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.

United Steelworkers Local 7175 v Veyance Technologies Canada Inc, 2015 CanLII 30713 (ON LA)

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Adrian Miedema

About Adrian Miedema

Adrian is a partner in the Toronto Employment group of Dentons Canada LLP. He advises and represents public- and private-sector employers in employment, health and safety and human rights matters. He appears before employment tribunals and all levels of the Ontario courts on behalf of employers. He also advises employers on strategic and risk management considerations in employment policy and contracts.

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