Is it time to ditch doctors’ notes?

Is it time to ditch doctors’ notes?

Is it time to ditch doctors’ notes? If you’re suspicious about the “sickness” keeping an employee off work after a holiday weekend – or any other day of the year – it might be best to just let the issue slide.

That’s the advice of an employment law expert, who says demanding a doctor’s note for every sick day is more trouble than it’s worth – for employers, workers and health professionals.

“If an employee is really just missing a day or two – and we’re talking not more than a day or two at a time – and the total number of days is relatively small, my advice to them would be ‘why bother?’,” says Devry Smith Frank lawyer Marty Rabinovitch.

It’s a view shared by the Ontario government, which is introducing 10 personal emergency leave days for all workers – two of which will be paid – which don’t require the worker to provide proof of the reason for their absence.

Announcing the policy, Labour Minister Kevin Flynn said he wanted to scrap sick notes as they were a “waste of resources”.

Rabinovitch agrees, and suggests employers reserve their requests for doctors’ notes for situations where an employee requires a lengthy period off work due to injury or illness.

“When you’re dealing with an employee who is permanently sick, is going to be sick for several weeks, then you focus on getting the medical information that you’re entitled to, and that you would want in those scenarios.

“If we’re dealing with a one-off ‘I have a cold and I’m not coming to work’, in my view, there’s really just no point … Employers have better things to do with their time than trying to catch employees who are lying about a one-off sick day.”

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