Details of voluntary alcohol rehab not necessary for medical leave

Adjudicator rules EAP provider didn’t have consent or justification to give full details of employee’s voluntary treatment to employer’s health service
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today

An Alberta company and its employee assistance plan provider didn’t have proper consent to collect and disclose an employee’s personal employee information in relation to his medical leave for treatment of an alcohol problem, according to an adjudicator from the office of the Alberta privacy commissioner.

On April 18, 2006, an employee of TransAlta, a power generation company in Alberta, received a medical opinion that he needed a three-month leave from work. He provided a doctor’s note and was referred to TransAlta’s occupational health nurse. The nurse referred the employee to Kelly, Lutmer and Associates (KLA), TransAlta’s provider of employee and family assistance program (EFAP), where he entered a voluntary drug and alcohol program. KLA also administered TransAlta’s occupational health and safety (OHS) program.

The employee understood his use of the EFAP would remain confidential since he entered voluntarily. His doctor recommended a three-month medical leave during treatment and he gave consent for KLA’s OHS program to collect necessary information from his doctor. He went on medical leave from May 8 to Aug. 15, 2006.