Jump to navigation
[url=http://globalnews.ca/news/1918256/doctors-sick-note-goes-viral/]One Alberta doctor is:[/url]
“I have no test for the common cold and therefore believe him/her, however you feel his time and mine should be wasted by making him sit in the walk in clinic for hours and me spending time writing a sick note that I could be spending on people who genuinely need my attention.”
It's a complex issue. Some workers get paid sick leave (100% up to a certain number of days per year), some get disability insurance (typically 60-70% of salary as a top-up to EI, often with a waiting period e.g. 3 days), some get nothing but EI (up to 15 weeks of benefits), and there are other variations. Should an employer take the word of the worker in all cases, without corroboration? Is there a method of corroboration which doesn't require a (often useless) visit to a walk-in clinic or the like? Should employers pay for the cost of a doctor's sick note (which can cost anywhere up to around $40-$50)?
Thanks for raising this, A24.
Should an employer take the word of the worker in all cases, without corroboration?
In the case of, say, long term disability then I might be inclined to say that it would be unreasonable to expect them to. But if you're going to be unable to work for weeks or months then it's probably more straightforward to objectively diagnose your condition.
Thing is, if you have a head cold or suchlike, this "corroboration" realistically amounts to your doctor verifying that you presented with symptoms that are congruent with a head cold. There's no equivalent to a pregnancy test for a head cold -- e.g. two blue lines on a stick that you peed on. It comes down to you saying "I have a sore throat and I'm coughing" and your doctor saying "he has a sore throat, and he's coughing".
As a health care worker I say yes. In Canada, most sick days would be colds and similar upper respiratory flu-like illnesses, and these are highly contagious. People with these conditions shouldn't go to the doctor and spread their germs all about, including to people who may be in the doctor's office and are at greater risk of a serious complication such as the elderly, the immunosupressed, or taking medications that cause immunosuppression.
If people lie about being physically sick, it could be they need a mental health day. I supervise four people, and one of them has maxed out his sick days and now doesn't get 100% pay when he takes another one. He has been struggling with back pain and also an abusive partner.
In 2012, a friend died of cancer. Before his death, he experienced a bout of febrile neutropenia, a condition brought on by his chemotherapy treatment. People with profound neutropenia have lost a major part of their immune systems (the neutrophils, a type of white blood cell) and are in extreme danger of serious infection. (Christopher Hitchens died not from cancer, but from febrile neutropenia.) So I told my friend to go wearing a mask to the emergency room and tell the triage nurse that he is a cancer patient with neutropenia. He did, and received appropriate care.
So yeah; let people have a few paid sick days without having to present proof. It's better that they scam sometimes than spread their infections to people who can't handle it, for the sake of satisfying perfectionistic bosses and HR people.
let people have a few paid sick days without having to present proof. It's better that they scam sometimes than spread their infections to people who can't handle it, for the sake of satisfying perfectionistic bosses and HR people.
It's also been shown that you are far more useful to your employer if you take the one or two days you need and come back fully refreshed, rather than try and push through while fighting symptoms for a week and putting your performance at risk for that length of time.
A while back, I remember reading an article comparing the number of days off for full-time workers in Canada compared with some European countries. It helped me realize a lot of Canadians are overworked and need more rest.
I agree with Unionist, it's a complex issue. I've seen what I consider abuse from both employees and employers.
At my work an employee (who for example is shitting and puking their brains out) would technically need to show up at work then go to the doctors to get a note, bring that note to work then go home. I let anyone who works for me call in sick for up to 2 days without going through that back and forth process before telling them they need a note. It's worked well for me so far. Notes don't cost them money however.
These workers were sick of their bosses' nonsense
The least the reporter though could have said to the company spokesperson is why have you treated your workers so bad and what is it specifically you have done to your workers that they felt the need to join a union, eh!