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Doctor chastises employer in sick note

By COS staff

The issue of requiring doctor’s notes for absences from work has risen its head again, thanks to a posting on Reddit.

A user posted a letter — which the CBC says was allegedly written by a doctor in Alberta — chastising the policy of requiring a sick note for an absence.

You can see the image from imgur here, but here’s the text:

“[First name] has had, by their own report, a cold today and sensibly stayed home from work rather than spreading this to his colleagues/customers. 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.

Please reconsider your policy on this — there are surely better ways of wasting your tax dollars.”

The issue of providing sick notes has proven contentious in recent years. Employers rely on them to help police absences, and doctors rue them for the waste of time and the fact it forces people who are sick into public and into waiting rooms, where they could infect others.

Last year, in an exclusive commentary for Canadian HR Reporter, a sister publication of COS, Scott Wooder — president of the Ontario Medical Association — called on employers to put a stop to the practice. He wrote:

“Requiring sick notes for absent employees might seem like a good idea from an HR perspective, but consider it from my vantage point — I’ve been a family doctor for the past 28 years and I probably see an average of two patients per day who are only there for illness documentation.

“That’s two extra patients crowding my waiting room, possibly spreading the flu to pregnant women, cancer patients and small children.

“And for what? In 28 years, I’ve rarely denied anyone a sick note. If a patient says they’ve been vomiting or have a sore throat or otherwise feel terrible, of course I take them at their word.”

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