We have recently been advised by Air Canada Mainline that there were changes to the sick leave substantiation policies and practices.
Members have reported to us that they have been impacted by this change. They are being advised that they will be asked for a medical note if their absence is five days or more. We corresponded with the employer and gave them the case law examples found HERE to indicate past arbitral decisions asserting that they cannot make blanket substantiation requests. It is our opinion that the case law is very clear and unambiguous. To put it simply, we do NOT agree with this change.
We will continue to address this in a proactive manner and utilize all resources available to us. In our mind this is not a demonstration of the appreciation and value that our members bring to the company. We have filed the following grievance linked HERE and will pursue it all the way to arbitration if need be. We will be reaching out to external legal counsel on this as well to ensure that we have a strategy and do not accept this inappropriate and unwarranted change in practice.
It is discouraging to see this shift. The Canada Labour code does allow employers to make requests for substantiation in some circumstances, but it is certainly not a carte blanche and open-ended management right. As we are all acutely aware, the medical system in Canada is under strain. Access to physicians is limited and our hard-earned sick time should be used to rest and recover and not to be chasing increasingly rare doctor’s appointments. We will update you as soon as we have news to provide. Please reach out to your Local Office with your examples of how this change in practice has negatively impacted you. We can use them to our advantage for legal purposes and seek a meaningful remedy.
President, Air Canada Component of CUPE