The three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with: An employee who was dismissed for not submitting a doctor’s note in a timely fashion; a firefighter who was reinstated after being dismissed for sexually harassing a co–worker; and human rights claims, made by a former employee, that were barred by terms of a final release received on termination.
Employers should deploy a number of strategies to minimize their workers’ compensation related costs. One such strategy is to ensure you have instituted effective Early and Safe Return to Work (RTW) practices and procedures, including making an offer of suitable modified work for those employees who require modified duties a standard procedure.
In the recent decision, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (“OHRT”) addressed the issue of when it would be reasonable for an employer to request an Independent Medical Exam (“IME”) from an employee during the accommodation process. The OHRT ruled that an employer request for an IME will be justified when it was “reasonable” in the circumstances of creating an individualized accommodation plan.
Three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with changes to employment agreements; consequences of employee comments; and, opinions from non-doctor health and medical professionals.
When I was in high school and university, it was not uncommon for a few of my classmates to fall ill during exams or just prior to a major test. When explaining to the teacher the next day why they were not present to write the test, one of the more common responses from the teacher would be, “Bring a doctor’s note.”
Dr. Scott Wooder, president of the Ontario Medical Association, says employers that require doctor’s notes could be unwittingly increasing the spread of germs by unnecessarily sending sick people to doctors’ offices.
It can be very difficult to establish cause for dismissal, particularly when the employee has lengthy service with the employer. However, on the right facts, it is possible to do so. MacBurnie v. Halterm Container Terminal Limited Partnership, 2013 NSSC 361, is a recent example of an employer that successfully proved at trial that it had dismissed an employee for cause.
Employers are often at a loss as to how to ensure employees who take sick days are really sick and not simply abusing the system. They are often scared to ask for doctor’s notes, but also scared that if they don’t, the abuse will become rampant. I often encourage employers to consider abandoning the notion of sick days altogether, and simply provide a fixed number of “personal days”, which eliminates the implicit or explicit requirement that an individual be sick in order to have time off.