Do you need a doctor's note in order to take sick leave?
Let's find out.
Before I answer that question, let's lay a few facts on the table.
1. Subject to applicable government labor/health laws, any organization can make any policy as it deems fit.
2. Provincial laws differ in their approach to this question or policy so you need to be familiar with yours.
3. You need to be familiar with your employment contract.
Any concerns with asking for a medical note for missed time from work or days when an employee calls in sick? Yes, I have a few:
1. It speaks of distrust. If you don't believe that your employee knows when he or she needs to take a rest and heal except a doctor confirms it, then you probably need to check your policy.
2. It costs money. Medical notes are not always free. Some can be free (only because the patient is not personally paying for it but somebody is) and some are charged. In addition, to get the note, an employee will need to drive or take public transport to the clinic. If the employee earns minimum wage, this becomes a big deal.
3. Some employees may choose to not go through the hassles of getting the medical note and rather continue to work. These folks pose more risk to the establishment by being infectious if the illness is such or by having workplace injuries. This becomes a bigger problem in the workplace.
4. It creates an avoidable burden on the healthcare system. When a sick and infected person who can heal by staying home stays in the waiting room in order to see a physician for a medical note, anyone else in the same waiting room with a weak immune system is put at greater risk of contracting another infection or getting worse. In addition, it takes a longer time for patients who really need to see a physician to access the life-saving service that they deserve.
5. It might take the sick employee a longer time to heal since the person likely spends healing time in the clinic instead of at home. This also directly impacts the organization.
What's the answer?
You SHOULD NOT need a medical note in order to take a sick leave subject to provincial and labor laws. Personally, my position is that unless your manager or HR is concerned with your pattern of absence (in which case I expect them to approach things differently), you need not be asked to provide a sick note. And if your organization has this archaic law, enforces it and doesn't see a reason to change it, you probably need to look for a different employer because there is no trust.
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