Employers should stop asking for a doctor’s note when employees take sick leave because it’s wasting doctors’ time and putting others at risk.
That’s the message from Ontario Medical Association (OMA) president Scott Wooder, who said employees should stay home and avoid spreading their germs.
“First of all, you don’t want to encourage people who have infectious diseases to go to their doctor’s office when it’s not necessary,” said Wooder, who works as a family physician in Southern Ontario.
“They’re in a waiting room with other people, (and) some of them have very serious illnesses like cancer. There are pregnant mothers and children. They’re putting those people at risk.”
He estimated that Ontario sees “tens of thousands” of daily doctor visits just to get medical notes.
“(These visits) are expensive, they’re unnecessary and they put other people at risk,” said Wooder. “We don’t have resources in the health care system to police absenteeism for employers.”
Most organizations only require a medical note after a certain number of days off as a way of reducing the risk of people abusing the sick leave system.
“You’re running a business. You’ve got some expectations for people to show up, and rightly so,” John Kiru, executive director of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas said. “After a certain point, I think the expectation should continue to be: a sick note, a note indicating that the individual was truly ill rather than somebody that wanted to take three days off.”
Wooder said employers should be more trusting of workers who call in sick, freeing up health resources for patients who need them.
“I’m not an expert in workplace absenteeism, but I am an expert in health care,” he said. “I think employers are going to have to adopt other policies.”
What is your sick leave policy? How trusting are you of those who take a number of consecutive days off?