Politician weighs in on contentious sick-note issue

It’s a topic that divides HR professionals but one NDP backbencher has proposed a law that would severely restrict employer rights.

It’s a contentious topic that divides HR professionals across the country but could one politician’s proposal settle the issue of employee sick notes once and for all? Well, in Manitoba at least.

NDP backbencher Dave Gaudreau has put forward a law that would forbid bosses in the province from requesting sick notes until an employee had missed at least seven days in a calendar year.

“It would definitely save taxpayers (money) and free up a lot of doctors' time,'' Gaudreau said Tuesday. “The savings to the system, to Manitoba taxpayers, is in the millions of dollars,” he added.

Currently, the province has no law governing when employers can demand a doctor’s note but medical groups across Canada have been increasingly criticizing the practice over the past few years.

In an official statement, the Ontario Medical Association said the practice of requiring sick notes “has a discouraging effect and forces patients into the doctor's office when they are sick, which only encourages the spread of germs to those in the waiting room.''
The Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association also expressed concern that numerous employer requests were wasting too much of doctors’ time.

Last year, one employee’s extraordinary sick note went viral when it was shared online.
“Please reconsider your policy on this,” a clearly-frustrated MD begs the overly-diligent employer, “there are surely better ways of wasting your tax dollars.”

The note added that the patient "sensibly stayed home from work," rather than spread his cold to his colleagues and customers. 

"I have no test for the common cold and therefore believe him, 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," added the doctor. 

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