Sick notes required by employers a strain on system, says NLMA

KeepHealthCare.ORG – Sick notes required by employers a strain on system, says NLMA

The majority of sick notes are unnecessary and not the best use of a physician’s time, says the president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association.

Lynn Dwyer says during peak flu season, she usually gives out anywhere from 3 to 5 sick notes to patients each day.

They’re delivered only at the bequest of employers and are not covered under any form of medical insurance.

“We really feel like that should be an issue that be resolved between the employer and the employee,” said Dwyer.

She said forcing ill patients to come to a medical office to get a sick note can also have negative effects on people seeking care.

“Patients who are sick with a minor illness, a flu or a cold or a stomach bug, we’d like for them to stay at home so they can recover. And potentially they’re putting vulnerable patients at risk by coming into the waiting room,” she said.

New Ontario policy something to look at 

Dwyer said a new policy by the Ontario government is a model the province could look at as a potential blueprint to limiting sick notes for short term illnesses.

As of the start of this year, Ontario workers get at least 10 personal emergency leave days per year, without needing to provide medical authorization for them.

“In 2014 the NL Medical Association did issue a letter at that time encouraging that for minor illnesses, that the patient be able to self report,” she said

That recommendation however was not binding, and many employers still require sick notes. These notes can cost anywhere between $10 dollars and up and also increase wait times. 

At the end of the day, Dwyer said employees should be given the benefit of the doubt by their employers and be able to call in sick without a note.

“You know, our employees, they’re all adults, they’re all responsible adults. And I think if they have a minor illness, they should be able to stay at home. And that should be recognized between the employer and the employee.”



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