The recently revised Attendance and Disability policy is the result of a settlement agreed to at grievance arbitration hearing in December. The union has been trying to get the college to simplify the Short Term Disability process by reducing the number of forms and questions an employee is asked to complete. To that extent, we feel the settlement resulted in an improved process for our members. The new policy has three forms that an employee may be asked to complete (down from seven under the old policy):
1. The Medical Certificate (Appendix ‘A’)
2. The Attending Physician’s Statement (Appendix ‘B’)
3. The Functional Abilities form (Appendix ‘C’) – This form also includes the “release of information” consent that has caused some concern among our members
The policy requires the employee to complete Appendix ‘A’ after 5 days of continuous absence, and Appendix ‘B’ after 20 days of continuous absence. Appendix ‘C’ is only to be completed when specifically requested by the College. It should not be sent to employees automatically along with Appendix ‘B’ – the Claim for Short Term Disability Benefits after 20 days absence.
Notwithstanding the timelines above, the College can request that forms ‘A’, ’B’ and/or ‘C’ be completed sooner under the following circumstances:
The reason for the absence requires clarification
- The return to work date is undetermined
- The absenteeism has become patterned
- There are questions regarding the employee’s ability to return to work safely or on a regular basis
- There are questions that arise regarding the legitimacy of the absence
In any of the cases above, the College must have a specific reason to ask for more documentation. In other words, if the College requests that an employee complete Appendix ‘A’ prior to 5 days absence, or Appendix ‘B’ prior to 20 days absence, or Appendix ‘C’ at any time, they need to have a specific reason or reasons for doing so. The reason behind any such request should be communicated to the staff member when the forms are requested by the College.
Consent to Release of Information
There has been concern expressed from our members regarding this clause in Appendix ‘C’.
Note that the consent is only for the release of information regarding the employee’s prognosis, not the diagnosis, and any workplace accommodations. This is not consent to release the employee’s full medical history. Furthermore, an employee has the right to review the information the College collects on them, and we encourage every employee who signs such a form to make a formal request to the College to see their file so that they know exactly what information has been collected, and to ensure that this information does not go beyond the scope of the consent agreement.
As always, if you have questions or if you are uncertain if a policy is being applied correctly, contact a union steward for advice.