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What are the Rules Regarding a Doctor’s Note and State-Mandated Paid Sick Time?

Posted on 1/11/2018 by Michael Zamora
The New Year has brought many new mandatory paid sick leave laws with many more states and municipalities to follow. The introduction of many state-mandated Paid Sick and Safe Time laws means that dealing with employees who take mandatory paid sick leave is simply part of doing business. It is imperative that you acquaint yourself with these laws to ensure that you are meeting all regulations while also doing what is best for your employees and your practice.

One of the biggest questions surrounding mandatory paid sick leave pertains to doctor’s notes. When can you request them, and are you allowed to call and verify them? In short, you are not allowed to request a doctor’s note for any days which fall under the employee’s mandatory paid sick leave.

The reality is that mandatory paid sick leave is allotted at the discretion of the state legislature. This means that mandatory paid sick leave is a protected leave to be exercised with no questions asked. Requiring a doctor’s note would infringe on allotted mandatory paid sick leave because your staff could be disciplined for using it. This is in complete opposition of what a protected leave stands for. Like all laws, the mandatory paid sick leave law is not at the discretion of the employer, but a mandate for the employer to follow.

However, after mandatory paid sick leave is exhausted, you do have the flexibility to deny or approve additional absences or ask for doctor’s notes to approve the absence. Keep in mind that even with a doctor’s note you may never follow up with the physician, as this infringes on your employees’ HIPAA rights. The note can only say the name of the doctor and the date/time that your employee was seen. In addition, if you are going to request a doctor’s note for an employee’s absence, you need to ensure that you have a policy in place (such as requesting a note after the third unpaid sick day) which is applied equally to all of your employees.

It is important that you consult legal counsel or an HR Specialist to ensure you know the laws regarding doctor’s notes and mandatory paid sick leave.

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