NOTE:  This information is subject to change. Please check with the Local 110 Office to ensure you are following current procedures.

Fanshawe has hired a company called Morneau Shepell LLP (Shepell) to administer short-term disability claims, returns to work, work accommodations, and related issues.

Shepell is an agent of the College. Legislation and arbitration rulings significantly restrict the employer’s and Shepell’s access to private medical information. However, the employer/Shepell are entitled to sufficient information necessary to support member absences, accommodation, and so on.[1]

Generally, members interact with Shepell in the following circumstances:

  • Planned medical absences lasting longer than five consecutive workdays. For shorter absences, you can generally just call in sick.
  • Unplanned medical absences lasting longer than five consecutive workdays.
  • Return to work from medical absences
  • Requests for accommodation/restrictions regarding medical issues/disabilities/etc

Below you will find detailed instructions regarding what to do in each of these situations. However, in general, if you anticipate any interaction with Shepell, we strongly suggest that you seek union advice as soon as possible by contacting the OPSEU 110 Office. We will put you in touch with a union officer who can assist you:

In Person (M-F, 9-3:30) Phone/Email Mail
Room D2018  Fanshawe College, London Campus 519.452.4205
union@opseu110.ca
PO Box 32047, RPO Northland, London, ON  N5V 5K4

Planned Absences

If you know you will need to be absent for 5 consecutive workdays or longer (because of scheduled surgery, for example), follow these steps:

  • Email your immediate supervisor to advise that you will be absent.
  • See the end of this document for a sample email illustrating the following points:
    • Use the “Read Receipt” feature in Outlook for this email.
    • Give tentative dates. Emphasize that these dates subject to change depending on your recovery, etc.
    • You don’t have to give any details regarding your illness, surgery, etc—in fact, we strongly suggest that you provide no more information than strictly necessary.
    • Ask your supervisor to outline in writing exactly what procedures you should follow to document and support your absence.
    • Copy the union (union@opseu110.ca) on the email.
  • You will receive an email from a Shepell caseworker. This email usually has several forms attached:
    • Attending Physician Form
    • Consent to Disclose Personal Health Information
  • Give the “Attending Physician Form” to your physician.
    • Although your primary-care/family physician can complete this form, we usually suggest that your surgeon/specialist complete it.
    • This form can be mailed, faxed, or scanned and emailed. We suggest the last option when possible.
    • Ask your physician/physician’s assistant to provide you with a copy of the completed form as well.
  • Complete the “Consent To Disclose Personal Information” form as follows:
    • It is very important that you limit consent. Your employer (and Shepell is acting on behalf of the employer for the purposes of this situation) is only entitled to the following information:
      • Prognosis (mainly anticipated length of recovery and return-to-work date).
        • Neither the employer nor Shepell is entitled to any information about your diagnosis.
      • Functional information/Restrictions (what you can do or not do once you return to work).
    • We very strongly suggest that you add the following statement to the “Consent” form:
      • “I restrict consent to information regarding my prognosis and any functional abilities/restrictions necessary upon my return to work.”
    • Your supervisor will enter the dates of your absence into Fanshawe’s Absence-Management System (AMS).
      • You will receive an automated email from the system with the dates:
        • Check that these dates correspond to the date range that your physician has specified.
        • If they are not, advise your supervisor and also contact the union.
      • You will almost certainly receive a phone call from your Shepell caseworker during your recovery:
        • If you would prefer not to speak to the Shepell caseworker over the phone, simply don’t answer the call. The caseworker will likely leave a voicemail. Email the caseworker and advise that you prefer to communicate in writing.
        • Alternatively, you could answer the call but verbally indicate that you prefer to communicate via email and then politely end the call.
        • Whether via phone or email, we suggest that you provide as little information as possible:
          • State that you are recovering.
          • Do not commit to your estimated return-to-work date; simply state that you are recovering and you will return to work when you are medically ready to do so.
          • If the caseworker requests more information/details, refer him or her to your physician’s office.
          • Some members prefer not to deal with Shepell directly at all. You can request the union to communicate with Shepell on your behalf.
          • If you would like to designate the union as your agent with regard to Shepell, please contact the union office.

Unplanned Absences:

Sometimes unfortunate, unanticipated events (accidents, sudden illnesses requiring rapid or even emergency treatment) can cause unplanned absences. If you need to be absent for longer than 5 consecutive working day because of such an event, you (or a family member) should following the same steps as above, with some modifications:

  • Instead of you contacting your supervisor directly, a family member or other person close to you may need to do so, at least initially.
    • If you do not have a family member or designate who can communicate with the College on your behalf, please contact the union, if possible.
    • Whatever the circumstances, however, it is important that someone advise the College of your absence as soon as possible.
    • You or your agent may use the same email template below, changed as needed to fit the circumstances.
  • There may be significantly more uncertainty about prognosis/functional/abilities. Thus, in such cases, it is especially important that Shepell communicate regarding these matters directly (and exclusively) with your physician.

Restrictions and Accommodations:

Restrictions and accommodations can follow a return to work after a medical absence, or they can arise on their own. For example,

  • you may have had surgery that has restrictions on lifting or bending,
  • you may have a knee problem that restricts the distance you can walk even though you haven’t missed work because of it, or
  • you may be experiencing stress that requires that you have a break between classes.

It is not necessary for you to suffer in silence. In fact, the College has a legal duty to accommodate employees, up to the point of unreasonable hardship. The vast majority of accommodations are fairly easy to achieve, but the first step in getting them in place is getting documentation.

The checklist below outlines the processes to follow, depending on your situation.

Accommodations/Restrictions After an Absence:

  • If you require accommodations/restrictions because of a medical problem or procedure leading to an absence of more than 5 consecutive days, your physician will likely specify the required accommodations/restrictions on the second page of the “Attending Physician Form.”
  • Check this form to see which accommodations/restrictions your physician has specified.
  • If you need accommodations/restrictions not specified on the form, contact your physician right away to request a revised/expanded form.
  • When you return to work, email to remind your immediate supervisor of the restrictions/accommodations that you need. Again, we strongly suggest that you not provide any information about your underlying illness/condition/procedure, as the employer is not entitled to this information. Instead, simply specify the accommodations/restrictions.
    • Use the “read receipt” function in Outlook for this email, and save the record.
    • Copy union@opseu110.ca on the email.
  • If you have problems with accommodations/restrictions, contact union@opseu110.ca.

Accommodations/Restrictions Not Involving An Absence:

You may be experiencing problems that do not require absence but that nonetheless make certain aspects of your work difficult.

  • List of your problems and possible solutions.
  • Discuss your list with your physician.
  • Determine specific restrictions/accommodations that fit your situation. These can range from scheduling accommodations, reduced workload, modified classroom assignments, or even ergonomic adjustments to your workstation.
  • Email your supervisor to request the restrictions you and your physician have determined to be necessary.
  • Your supervisor will advise Occupational Health and Safety of your accommodations, and you will receive forms from Shepell for your physician to complete.
  • If you have trouble obtaining the required accommodations/restrictions from the College, please contact the union office

Sample Emails

NOTE: We always suggest written communications so that all parties have a clear record. In all written communications with your supervisor, other College employees, or Shepell employees, be specific and polite but carefully avoid giving any unnecessary information, especially details regarding the nature of your medical conditions. Private medical information is protected information to which your employer is not entitled.

 

Sample Email to Supervisor Regarding Absence
To:    yoursupervisor@fanshawec.ca      Cc:  union@opseu110.ca
Subject:        Medical Absence from 4-18 July 2014Dear (My Supervisor):I am writing to advise you that I will be absent because of a medical procedure from 4-18 July 2014.If you could reply to this email with an outline of the steps that I should follow to document this absence, I would appreciate it.Member Name

 

Sample Reminder Email to Supervisor Regarding Restrictions/Accommodation
To:   yoursupervisor@fanshawec.ca             Cc:    union@opseu110.ca
Subject:       Required Medical Accommodation/RestrictionDear (My Supervisor):I am writing to remind you that I require an accommodation/restriction with regard to my assigned work.Specifically, I require ____ [specify restriction/accommodation exactly as it appears on the form].My physician has specified this accommodation/restriction on a form submitted to Morneau Shepell LLP on ___ [give exact date].If you could reply to this email to confirm that my accommodation/restriction is being arranged, I would appreciate it.Member Name

 

Sample Email to Supervisor
Requesting Restrictions/Accommodation
To:                 yoursupervisor@fanshawec.ca          Cc:     union@opseu110.ca
Subject:       Request for Medical Accommodation/RestrictionDear (My Supervisor):I am writing to request accommodation/restriction with regard to my assigned work. My physician has determined that I require these accommodations because of a medical condition.Specifically, I require ____ [specify restriction/accommodation exactly as it appears on the form].If you could reply to this email with an outline of the steps that I should follow to document this request, I would appreciate it.Member Name

[1] A very detailed explanation of the legal issues regarding private medical information and employers appears in this arbitration ruling: O.N.A. (Ontario Nursing Association) VS. Hamilton Health Sciences Centre (2010).