sick leave policy
The three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with: An employee who was dismissed for not submitting a doctor’s note in a timely fashion; a firefighter who was reinstated after being dismissed for sexually harassing a co–worker; and human rights claims, made by a former employee, that were barred by terms of a final release received on termination.
As an employment law practitioner, it is refreshing to see any court and/or administrative tribunal release a decision that makes “common sense” (as well as legal sense). Recently, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal had to determine if the common flu and strep throat constituted disabilities under the Human Rights Code .
Dr. Scott Wooder, president of the Ontario Medical Association, says employers that require doctor’s notes could be unwittingly increasing the spread of germs by unnecessarily sending sick people to doctors’ offices.
Employers are often at a loss as to how to ensure employees who take sick days are really sick and not simply abusing the system. They are often scared to ask for doctor’s notes, but also scared that if they don’t, the abuse will become rampant. I often encourage employers to consider abandoning the notion of sick days altogether, and simply provide a fixed number of “personal days”, which eliminates the implicit or explicit requirement that an individual be sick in order to have time off.