Employer entitled to change long-standing practice of accepting chiropractor notes

Union said employer couldn't unilaterally make the change but language of policy said otherwise
|Canadian Employment Law Today

An Ontario company is entitled to change its long-standing practice of accepting notes from chiropractors as medical notes, the Ontario Arbitration Board has decided.

Pepsico Foods Canada Inc. had an illness and accident plan that provided for benefits for employees who were unable to work because of illness or injury. The plan was funded and administered by Pepsico. To receive benefits, an employee had to provide medical evidence of her inability to work from a “qualified physician.” For a long time, Pepsico accepted chiropractors as qualified physicians and accepted medical evidence from them.

However, in early 2007, the company stopped accepting chiropractors as qualified physicians and their notes as proper medical evidence for illness and injury benefits. The union filed a grievance, saying Pepsico couldn’t unilaterally change its practice after it had remained the same for several years and through several collective agreements. Though the illness and accident plan wasn’t a part of the collective agreement, the agreement did refer to it, saying it would stay in force until the collective agreement expired. The collective agreement also specified how much illness and injury benefits would be.