There are two reasons your job may require you to go see a doctor. If you have an illness that appears to be contagious, the employer may require you to get medical clearance proving that you don't have a communicable disease. Your job may also require you to go see a doctor when your illness is causing you to miss time from work. Failure to honor your employer's request may lead to undesirable consequences.
When Using Sick Leave
Some companies allow employees to take paid or unpaid sick leave, based on earned sick-leave hours. If you attempt to take sick leave with zero accrued hours in your “sick leave bank,” the employer may ask you to bring a doctor's note to prove you were really sick. Because of medical privacy laws, the employer can't make you disclose a medical diagnosis. However, she can ask for a note that states your name, along with the date and time you were seen by a doctor.
Under the Family Medical Leave Act, you are allowed to take unpaid job-protected leave due to medical reasons or to care for a sick family member. If you are requesting to take sick leave under FMLA, your employer may request a doctor's note verifying your medical condition, before approving your FMLA benefits. If you fail to present a doctor's note, it may cause your request for benefits to be denied.
FMLA Recertification Period
Once approved for FMLA, your certification for benefits is valid for six months. During that six-month period, the employer should not ask you to present a doctor's note, as long as you are missing work due to an FMLA-covered illness. An exception to this rule is when there has been a drastic change in your medical condition, or when the employer suspects you are abusing FMLA benefits. You must recertify for FMLA every six months by presenting a doctor's note confirming you are still sick.
Read your company's employee handbook to see if there is an “at-will” employment policy in place. If your employer has an “at-will” employment policy, it means she can terminate you at any time, for any reason. In this case, if your job asks you to go to the doctor, it is wise to honor the request. Otherwise, you risk losing your job due to insubordination. Insubordination is when you refuse to follow a direct order given to you by the employer. Even if an at-will employment policy is in place, your employer cannot fire you when your sickness is covered under FMLA.
- Society For Human Resource Management: FMLA Certification
- U.S. Department of Labor: Certification of a Serious Health Condition Under the Family and Medical Leave Act
- U.S. Small Business Administration: How to Fire an Employee and Stay Within the Law
- Society For Human Resource Management: Medical Privacy
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