Wednesday, March 23, 2016

WCT Medical Certification - FAQ

The Work Capacity Test "medical certification" in lieu of completing the WCT is creating a number of frequently asked questions.  I shared these questions with Brendon Fisher, Oregon Department of Forestry's Safety Manager and am posting both the questions and answers here to create a better understanding of how the medical certification is being interpreted this year.

This is health related information how widely can it be shared, will my co-workers be informed?

Because this is an official medical document, this information is confidential. The employee should only give their medical release to their immediate supervisor. Those records can only be shared with individuals who have a business related necessity or need to access them, such as Human Resources or the Safety Manager. Co-workers should not be informed of any health related information, unless divulged by the employee themselves. Some Co-workers may notice that the employee is not taking the pack test, but is still part of the firefighting effort and might ask why. In that situation, an appropriate response would be that they have a medical release in place of the Work Capacity Test, but no further information should be given.

The current form leaves a very small section to list limitations, and previously my supervisor has not accepted anything outside the given space.  Will attached information be allowed and how specific should the restriction/ limitation be described?

The medical release used now does provide a small section. It is meant to allow a physician to give general or summarized restrictions to prompt a further discussion. If more space was required, there are situations in which an attached form would be accepted. A physician could note in the restriction area – “see attachment”, but they should have the attachment be on their office letter head with their signature included. The more detailed the restrictions, the better, or easier it would be for HR and Safety to determine what duties an employee can still perform, the level of pack test they would normally be taking, and what accommodations may need to be considered based on their fire qualifications. In many situations, further clarification will need to be made either way, as a person’s fire qualifications and medical restrictions are likely to be unique compared to any other individual’s. Any follow up forms would be faxed to the physician in order to prevent further cost from them employee (unless the physician required another visit by the employee).

Will past medical certifications be considered as part of the “with restrictions” or if a medical certification is sought will just the current one be used to assess the reasonable accommodation? (health conditions can change)

Only the most current medical release will be considered. Because people’s health conditions can change, we expect that their restrictions may change as well, which is why we require an up-to-date medical release each season when restrictions are listed. If the employee was released to take the pack test, we would allow them based on their physician’s determination, even if they weren’t able to in years prior due to restrictions.

To clarify, if not employed but am a returning Seasonal employee, can I claim a $50 reimbursement for the medical review? (and when and how to request)

If someone, like a returning seasonal, qualifies for the $50.00 reimbursement for obtaining medical certifications in regards to the WCT, then they would keep a receipt of their medical bill or invoice, and complete the same reimbursement form that they would for travel and expense upon rehire. If the bill or invoice had sensitive information such as social security, they could black that out, but they must have some proof of their Dr. visit and cost. They can submit their reimbursement form any time after seeing their physician and after being rehired for the season by ODF.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Forestry Local Logo Key Rings and Mugs Available

Key rings and mugs with our new Forestry Local logo are now available.  The logo, designed by the SEIU 503 graphics department, is a modernized throw back to the Department's first, features a full Douglas-fir (Oregon's State Tree), our state outline all surrounded by a circle with a FORESTRY LOCAL 629 banner across the bottom. Contact myself or your organizer to get them out to your worksite.

The key rings and mugs were purchased using part of our Union dues as a tangible presence of our Union benefits.

These items were approved for purchase at our last two Statewide Local meetings, and depending on their acceptance a decision to purchase additional items will be made at our next Statewide set for Saturday, April 30th in Salem.