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Thread: How many days absent before doctor note is required? California

  1. #1
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    Default How many days absent before doctor note is required? California

    I have put in my notice with my employer (State of California). For my last 2 shifts, I called in sick. They are now saying that they require a doctor's note for the last day I called in before they will process my time card. As far as I knew, it took 3 consecutive days of illness before a doctor's note was required. Does anyone have the website that I can go to and print something out to show them? Thanks.

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    There are no laws that regulate whether an employer can require a doctor's note for absences. If you were absent three consecutive days and were seriously ill, it *might* trigger FMLA protection which would require certification by a doctor, but that's only if you, the employer, and your illness qualify. Because you are a state employee, it's possible that your employer has a policy that guides this.

    On the other hand, you must be paid for the hours that you worked.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grls_rok
    I have put in my notice with my employer (State of California). For my last 2 shifts, I called in sick. They are now saying that they require a doctor's note for the last day I called in before they will process my time card. As far as I knew, it took 3 consecutive days of illness before a doctor's note was required. Does anyone have the website that I can go to and print something out to show them? Thanks.
    The would still have to pay you for the non sick days. The sick days would be a matter of contract(CBA?) or policy/practice. I'm not sure if there are exceptions for governmental employees.
    I have been interested in employment rights for some time, however I am not a lawyer. Always consult with an attorney, as they are more knowledgeable.

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    As far as I know, an employer can ask for a Doctor's note, even for a 1 day absence. Most policy's that I have seen require it after 3 days. But even written policy, doesn't mean that they can not require it sooner.

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    Christamcd is correct. Outside of FMLA the law does not address when or whether an employer can require a doctor's note, and if FMLA is invoked you'd need a doctor's certification anyway.

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    Are you a member of a union? If so, then sick leave must be covered by some article in the CBA.

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    Are there any experts on this subect?

    I ask because at least two major companies [in California] teach its managers not to ask for a doctor's note unless:

    1. It's been 3 or more days
    2. FMLA related
    3. Employee has voluntarily disclosed that they have a contagious illness which could endanger other employees or patrons, a release note to come back to work is required

    If, for example, an employee calls in sick one day, and the manager says, "Ok, well if you're not going to cover your shift then you need to bring me a doctor's note..." implying that consequences will occur if a doctor's note is not brought in, the employer has then indirectly caused the doctor's note to be a condition of employment, and by doing so, the employer is required to pay for the doctor's visit. Whenever the employer makes it a requirement (beyond FMLA or 3 days, or contagious illness), the employer must pay for any services obtained to receive that doctor's note.

    So, to avoid being liable to pay for doctor's visits, some companies have a strict policy to NEVER ask for a doctor's note unless for one of the 3 previously stated reasons.

    On the flip side, if the employee FIRST says, "I think I'm going to the doctor today, I don't feel well", or "I'm going to the emergency room", or "I'm off to see my doctor", then the employer can say, "Oh, ok, then please bring me a copy of the doctor's note." In this case, the employee was already going, so employer not liable to pay.

    This is what some very large companies are teaching its managers (directly from HR) in California, but do not know how accurate this is or if any legalities actually apply?

    Is this just something companies are choosing to do to maintain best practices and high standards, or is this policy based on legality? Do employers have to pay for the doctor's visit in California under such circumstances? Would like to know.

    Can anyone answer this with absolute accuracy?

    Appreciated!
    Last edited by RestHR; 09-26-2006 at 09:20 AM.

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    This is entirely a matter of company policy. The law does not address the issue of doctor's notes. The law does not dictate to the employer when they can and when they cannot require doctor's notes.

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    Hi cbg:

    Thank you!

    Based on your comment, it appears that at least TWO large companies I have worked for in California are perhaps intentionally using a "fear-based" technique to get their managers NOT to ask for a doctor's note. By telling each manager the company is required to pay for the doctor's visit under certain conditions certainly deters the manager from asking. Interesting...

    Have a great day!

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    That is an intriguing claim though. Cal Labor Code Section 2802, the code that requires that all business expenses be reimbursed, is broad enough to be read that way. It may well be that the DLSE has made the big companies you mentioned pay for the doctor's visits if the employee otherwise had no reason to go to a doctor.

    And I certainly get frustrated going to a doctor to say "I have a cold. I plan to drink lots of fluids and rest. Yes, I know there's nothing you can do. Please give me a note."

    I can see making the company pay for that.
    Megan E. Ross, Esq.
    Law Offices of Michael Tracy
    http://www.gotovertime.com

    Disclaimer: The above response is a general statement of the law and should not be relied upon as legal advice. It only assumes the facts that are stated in the message. The above response does not serve to form an attorney-client relationship.

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    Thank you Megan!

    I think you're right on target with this. I can only assume this is the logic behind this kind of policy making. Thanks!

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    Since I track leave for 7000 employees myself, I would like to ofer an alternate reason for not requesting a note unless it is FMLA or an extended illness- I like trees. Seriously, there is only so much paper I want to deal with and if I had a note everytime one of my 7000+ employees was off a day for the sniffles, my desk would collapse under the weight of them all.

    Interesting take on what is a business expense. My thought has always been that if it doesn't benefit the business or the employer, it isn't a business expense. You couldn't deduct the cost from your income tax at the end of the year as an "unreimbursed business expense", so I'm not sure that it wouldn't be taxable income. Since I'm not in CA, and Patty is my payroll/taxable wages expert, I'll defer to someone else on this one.

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    Elle, my argument would be that it does benefit the business- it confirms to the company that the employee was actually sick, and not going fishing or something.
    Megan E. Ross, Esq.
    Law Offices of Michael Tracy
    http://www.gotovertime.com

    Disclaimer: The above response is a general statement of the law and should not be relied upon as legal advice. It only assumes the facts that are stated in the message. The above response does not serve to form an attorney-client relationship.

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