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Submitting Proper Medical Records for Accommodation

During the course of any employment, there may be occasions in which an employer asks an employee for a medical note. This could be in relation to taking a sick day, taking medical leave, or the disclosure of a disability to name a few examples. While there is an ongoing debate in Ontario regarding whether employers should have the ability to ask for medical notes in relation to taking sick days, there are occasions where an employee may have to provide a medical note, where medical notes may be relevant to ongoing employment or human rights legal matters. In such situations, employees should ensure they are aware of how to get proper medical records for their employer and how best to avoid a medical note becoming fatal to their legal matter.

Why a Medical Note may be Relevant to an Employment or Human Rights Matter

In Ontario, medical notes are often used as evidence in wrongful dismissal matters where cause has been alleged, where mental distress has been alleged, and in human rights matters before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario for matters related to disability. A medical note can often be used to justify time off that was taken where attendance is at issue or to prove that a disability and accommodation needs were disclosed to an employer.

A medical note can also specify exactly what type of restrictions an employee may need upon returning to work, where the employer would then have a duty to work with the employee and ensure that some form of accommodation is implemented up until the point of undue hardship. When it comes to disclosing medical issues and medical needs, employees should ensure they obtain a medical note in the event that it is needed for evidence down the road in the event of an employment related matter at court or at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

How to Ensure a Medical Note Does Not Harm your Case

A poorly drafted medical note can in fact be harmful to an employment related case. Since an employer will normally have to rely on a medical note to understand the nature of the employee’s disability or medical restrictions, some medical notes that don’t provide the proper information can give the employer ammunition when faced with a lawsuit or human rights application, and make it easier to defend against the allegations.

To illustrate, consider an employee who alleges that their doctor specified necessary medical restrictions for work duties, but the accompanying medical note does not specify any restrictions. This can undermine the credibility of the argument that medical restrictions were required. Additionally, if the employee requires a medical note to take medical leave related to a disability, if the medical note does not specify the disability and instead is vague, the employer may attempt to argue they did not know the employee’s disability was one that required any further accommodations.

Employees should ensure their medical notes specify the medical issues involved and also detail any workplace accommodations or restrictions required. If an employee is unsure if a medical note would be fatal to a potential employment or human rights matter, they should consult with an employment lawyer for clarity.

Contact Us

If you are an employer and want to know more about requesting medical documents from employees, or an employee and have questions about what you should include in a medical note or want to clarify if an existing medical note is harmful to your employment matter, our team of experienced employment 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.