Two of the province's largest public sector unions have taken issue with an employers group's response to a controversy over doctors' notes for sick employees.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association sent a letter  to doctors this week advising them they are not obligated to provide sick notes for people who need a note in order to return to work. Doctors say they are drowning in paperwork.

However, the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers' Council said it hopes physicians will continue to provide notes regardless.

NAPE president Carol Furlong said the concerns doctors have raised should be taken seriously.

"The Employers' Council seems to have taken nothing into account with respect to what will happen, the extra costs to the health care system, the congestion in doctor's offices and emergency rooms," she said.

Dr. Paul Bonisteel

Dr. Paul Bonisteel said on Thursday the amount of paperwork for physicians continues to grow, with some doctors spending more than a quarter of their time filling out forms. (CBC)

The NLMA said it wants employers to ask for sick days only after five days of illness, but the Employers' Council said it hopes physicians will continue to provide notes regardless.

Furlong said it's unfair of employers to expect a worker to provide a note for every illness.

"People are going to either stay off [sick] longer in order to get the note, or they're going to go to work  and they're going to go to work when they're sick," she said.

"And in lot of cases, these are people who shouldn't be at the workplace. And even the doctors are saying we don't even want them in our waiting rooms because they're spreading disease."

Employers' council 'arrogant,' says NLTA

Other union leaders agree with Furlong, saying the expectations of the employers' council needs to take into account the workload faced by the physicians.

In a release sent out Friday, Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association said the medical association was right in its concern over misplaced resources to meet demand for doctor's notes.

"The NLMA is concerned about the 'inappropriate use of health care resources,' and rightfully so," NLTA President James Dinn said in the release.

"However, the Employers' Council's desire for more detailed documentation will only clog doctor's offices and emergency waiting rooms with employees seeking sick notes and increase costs of an already burdened and expensive medical system."

Dinn said the employers' group was more concerned with managing productivity and administration than ensuring the proper use of doctor resources.

He said a physician's judgment about whether or not a sick note should be needed by an employer should be adequate to settle the debate.