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Reasons To Request an Employee’s Medical Information

This article provides basic guidelines for matters pertaining to requesting an employee’s medical information by employers for work-related purposes. Employee medical information can include but is not limited to, symptoms, diagnoses, information regarding treatment, and outlook on condition over time. It is important for both employers and employees to know their rights regarding the collection of medical information in the workplace.

Reasons to Request an Employee’s Medical Information

There are several legitimate reasons for an employer to request medical information from an employee. These reasons include, but are not limited to, attendance management, providing accommodation, and administering benefits.

When an employee is intermittently absent and claims the absences are due to medical issues, it is reasonable for the employer to ask the employee to provide medical information. If the medical issue persists, or the employee is or becomes disabled, the employee can ask their employer to provide accommodations. Under human rights legislation, such as the Ontario Human Rights Code, employers have a duty to provide accommodation to any employee with a disability, until the point of undue hardship. An employee that has requested accommodations also has a duty to provide their employer with medical information.

An employer would also require an employee’s medical information to properly administer benefit programs. These include sick leave, short-term disability leave, and long-term disability leave. When the employer has a third party, such as an insurance company, administer their benefit programs, an employee should provide the required medical information to the third party instead of the employer.

Requesting An Employee’s Medical Information

An employer can only request medical information from an employee in limited situations and is also limited in the amount of information they can request. Employers can only request information necessary to administer the employment relationship with the employee. The scope of information that an employer may collect must be limited to the minimum information necessary to fulfill the specific work-related purpose.

Any medical information requested from an employee must relate to the purpose the employer is trying to achieve, the employee’s specific duties and responsibilities, and should be confined to the time period at issue. An employee may not be obligated to disclose medical information that does not conform to these parameters. However, the specific medical information an employee may be required to disclose will always depend on the specific situation.

Employers are strongly advised to obtain the employee’s written consent regarding the scope of information to be gathered, how it will be used, and who the information may be disclosed to. Employee medical information cannot be used for anything other than the purpose for which it was collected. Employers also have a duty to ensure that an employee’s medical information is not inappropriately used or disclosed.

Conclusion

The medical information an employer can legally ask for will always depend on the employee’s specific situation. It is important for employees to know their rights, and to know when an employer is asking for more medical information than the employee has an obligation to give. Employers should also strive to limit their requests for employee medical information to what is truly necessary for the specific circumstance.

Contact Us 

If you are an employer who requires assistance requesting an employee’s medical information for work-related purposes, or an employee who has been discriminated against, our team of experienced human rights lawyers at Achkar Law can help. Contact us by phone toll-free at +1 (800) 771-7882 or email us at [email protected] and we would be happy to assist.

If you are a small or medium-sized company looking for full-service support with a same-day response, visit our CLO Program page for our strategic solutions.

Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to serve as or should be construed as legal advice and is only to provide general information. It is in no way particular to your case and should not be relied on in any way. No portion or use of this blog will establish a lawyer-client relationship with the author or any related party. Should you require legal advice for your particular situation, fill out the contact form, call (800) 771-7882 or email [email protected]