H1N1 Update

PDF version

Recently, leaders of various Canadian medical associations have requested that employers not require medical notes for employees who are ill with flu.  

Dr. Anne Doig, President of the Canadian Medical Association has indicated that the reason for this is two-fold: “During this pandemic, doctors want to spend time dealing with patients and not paperwork.  Asking people to provide sick notes for H1N1 increases the risk that others will get infected.”

In recognition of the increasing pressure on our medical clinics and hospitals due to the H1N1 pandemic situation, we will not require an Attending Physician’s Statement as part of a claim submission for Short Term Disability, EarlyRETURNS or any other early intervention services, only if the absence is due to flu symptoms or a clinical diagnosis of H1N1.  This is a time-limited exception as we move through the 2009-2010 flu season.

In place of an APS, for influenza- or H1N1-related absences, we will now require the plan member to complete the “Plan Member Confirmation of Illness” form, created with other carriers through the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association.

The plan member must complete this form and submit it, along with their completed Plan Member Statement, to the appropriate Sun Life Group Disability office. This form will provide us with information regarding the nature of the plan member’s condition, any complications they may be experiencing and what medical services they have received.

We recognize that this approach is an exception to our standard requirements for medical information and treatment by a licensed physician, but we feel that this is the most appropriate approach at this time because we want to:

  • encourage plan members to stay home if they are sick;
  • limit the possible spread of infection by not requiring a visit to a doctor’s office;
  • ensure that plan members are able to submit a claim for STD benefits in the event their physician refuses to complete an APS; and
  • limit the number of visits to doctors’ offices to get forms completed during this period of increased strain on the health care system.

From a privacy perspective, plan members may not be required to report the illness that is the cause for their absence from work. Therefore, we recommend that plan sponsors provide the new “Plan Member Confirmation of Illness” form to all plan members who will be submitting a STD or EarlyRETURNS claim, along with the standard suite of STD claim forms (including the diagnostic-specific Attending Physician’s Statements). The plan member will then complete the form that is most appropriate for their condition. 

We will continue to require an APS for all other medical conditions. 

The following FAQ has been developed to answer any questions you may have when dealing with this new exception.

Where to get more information on H1N1

The Canadian Public Health Association has created a one-stop website directed primarily at the general public for the information you need on H1N1 at www.pandemic.cpha.ca..This site was developed to provide information from various sites in one easy-to-find location.

You can visit the World Health Organization website at www.who.int/en for helpful tips and updates when dealing with H1N1. 


Please contact your Sun Life Financial group representative.