When to Ask for Doctor’s Notes

So your employee has used a “sick” day or Personal Emergency leave. Are you allowed to ask for a doctor’s note?

Yes you are. But, as with all things HR, some discretion should be used. A little trust and respect can go a long way to keeping your employees happy. Also, if the employer is going to insist that the employee provide a doctor’s note, the employer is required to cover the cost of the fee for obtaining that note.

The reasoning behind the requirement for a doctor’s note is to establish documentation for those employees who like to “play games” with their days off. An employee who has worked more than a year, and takes little or no sick time, should not be asked for a note if they take the provided PEL or sick days.

If there is a legitimate concern that the employee is contagious or that an illness will present a risk to others in the workplace (including clients), or there is an injury requiring modified duties (temporary or permanent) the employer should ask for a note that gives clearance for the employee to return to work and details any restrictions or modifications needed.

If you start to see a pattern in the absences such as every Friday or Monday, or the day before a long weekend/vacation, there may be an attendance management issue going on. This would be a good reason to require the doctor’s note.

Your best practice would be to have a comprehensive Attendance Management Policy that clearly outlines the expectations for the employees and the employer.

Contact us today for help with your Attendance Management Issues!