To ask or not to ask for a Doctor note

Blog located in HR Solutions, Small Business posted on May 20, 2016

It’s considered beneficial to have a clear, well-documented sick-leave policy in place regardless of the size of your organization. The policy should outline what is expected from an employee in relation to absence due to illness (whether short or long-term) and the associated requirement of a doctor’s note. When it comes to a doctor’s note, the decision is yours.

What culture do you want to promote?

You cannot expect a 100% attendance record from all your employees. Being sick is part of life! But how you react to reoccurring absenteeism is up to you. In fact, the policy you will develop must be aligned with the type of organization you’re promoting. Think about the impact frequent long-term absences will have on your business. These factors should influence how you draft your policy and when to ask for a doctor’s note.

Heavy-duty solutions don’t work well

There are options that you can leverage to discipline your employees other than heavy-handed policies. Rather than a blanket policy applicable to all employees, it would be more effective to address issues directly on a one on one basis. These meetings should be handled professionally and should not be accusatory. On the contrary: you need to express your concern about your employee missing work from a personal stand point as well as addressing the impact it has on your business. Offer your support as much as possible.

Better recruitment process

If addressing those issues doesn’t work and you feel you need to check on your employees whenever they call in sick, you’re probably hiring the wrong ones. You should be focusing your efforts on recruiting better employees; employees you can trust.

The take-home message

Having a policy in place goes a long way, as it provides you and your employee clarity and sheds light on expectations. How you actually apply the policy is up to you. Keep in mind that being away for a day or two is less disruptive to your business than being away for three weeks. In which case asking for a doctor note would make sense.

If you instill trust by not micromanaging your employee, and you have a thorough recruiting process, managing sick days might be easier than you think.

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