There are many reasons why an employer may want a doctor’s note. Maybe you requested sick leave for a health related issue or are taking unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Or, maybe you have sustained a work related injury and are out of work on workers’ compensation. Whether your employer is legally permitted to ask for a doctor’s note depends on your particular circumstance and the employer’s policies.
It is common that an employer ask for a doctor’s note for sick leave, especially if the employee misses a lot of days. While it is legal that an employer ask for a doctor’s note, it must be done consistently with its sick leave or attendance policy. Basically, your employer cannot ask your doctor for a note and not other employees who take similar sick leave.
While it is legal that your employer ask for a note, they cannot ask for specific medical information/records. Your employer can only verify that you were seen by the health care provider and the amount of time needed for the leave. If your employer seeks additional information, they may be in violation of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).
If you were injured on the job and are collecting or looking to collect workers’ compensation, your employer can request a note from your doctor. While you generally need to disclose medical records with a workers’ compensation claim, there are federal laws to protect your privacy as an employee. If the medical information is not related to the injury, it should not be disclosed.
Family and Medical Leave Act
FMLA permits employers to require employees to obtain a completed certification from their health care provider to substantiate the need for FMLA leave. The Department of Labor provides a specific form that needs to be completed. The certification does not need to provide the employee’s diagnosis but does need to state appropriate medical facts that indicate the employee needs leave due to an FMLA protected health condition. In certain circumstances, a doctor’s note may be required, but employees are under no obligation to provide copies of their medical records or talk about the details related to their injury/illness.
American with Disabilities Act
If you need time off of work or an accommodation because of a disability, your employer may require a doctor’s note. The ADA permits employers to request information from an employee’s health care provide to determine whether the disability rises to the level for an accommodation or time off allowed by law. The request for medical information should be limited to the condition that which requires the accommodation. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines what can and cannot be requested by the employer.
Sum It Up
- An employer can request a doctor’s note from an employee for sick leave, confirming the need for sick time.
- An employer can request a doctor’s note for a workers’ compensation claim as long as the request information is related to the injury.
- An employer can request an employee to obtain a completed FMLA certification from its health care provider. The employee does not need to disclose any medical information beyond the certification.
- An employer may need to obtain medical information under the ADA to determine an appropriate accommodation.
- Your state and local laws may have additional rules and regulations.
Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. It provides general information and is not intended and should not be construed as professional advice. The author is not your attorney, accountant, financial planner or any other professional and no professional-client relationship is created. We do not represent that the information provided is accurate or up-to-date as laws and regulations are always changing. If you have an issue that requires professional help, you should contact the appropriate professional to help you on your specific set of facts. Please read the Terms and Conditions for additional information.