I have read many places, including this website, that it is legal for an employer to require a doctor’s excuse for sick leave or attendance policy, and then most that I have read then states that usually employers request this after 2 or 3 days. However, what if an employee is not paid for sick leave and only calls off sick for one day, and the health insurance is awful, can the employer require a doctor’s excuse? If we as the employer require a doctor’s excuse, can the employee request that we pay for it?
Yes, as an employer you can require a doctors excuse after an absence of just one day. An employee can request anything, including a million dollars in unmarked bills and that you pay for the doctors visit. But you are under no obligation to fulfil those requests.
There are two reasons why employers request doctors notes after absences. The first is to discourage employees from friviously using paid sick days for minor — or non-existant– illnesses. The second reason is to reduce the employers liability. Employees are required to present a doctors note that they are well enough to return to work. Suppose Jon takes a day off because he has a sprained shoulder. The doctors release assures Jons employer that he can safely resume his normal work duties.
Employers are under no obligation to pay for the doctors visit, even if the employee has no healthcare insurance whatsoever. The assumption is that if the employee was genuinely ill enough to miss work, he was probably under a doctors care, anyway.
The employer cannot require that either the employee or the doctor disclose the exact diagnosis. That is protected information under HIPAA.
In most cases, if an employee returns to work without a doctors, the absence is considered unexcused. The employee will usually receive a verbal or written reprimand. In some cases, the employer may terminate the employee. In other cases, the employer will not allow the employee to return to work without a doctors release. This is a matter of company policy, not employment law.
Whether or not the employer offers paid sick leave is irrelevant.
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