No more sick notes from workers, pleads Doctors Nova Scotia

Physicians in Nova Scotia have joined their counterparts in Ontario by asking bosses to stop requiring doctors' notes for sick employees.

It puts a burden on the system, says group echoing the OMA

The head of the Ontario Medical Association says requiring employees to provide a sick note has a "discouraging effect" and ends up sending sick people to waiting rooms, where they can infect others. (CBC)

Physicians in Nova Scotia have joined their counterparts in Ontario by asking bosses to stop requiring doctors' notes for sick employees.

Many employers and some universities require notes from doctors to verify that sick day policies aren't being abused.

Doctors Nova Scotia — the professional association representing physicians in the province — says those visits eat-up valuable time.

Kevin Chapman, director of health policy and promotion for Doctors Nova Scotia, said notes have always been an issue, but now that it's flu season things are getting worse.

“Unnecessary visits to doctors’ offices clog a system that’s already strained, I would suggest,” he said.

“The best place is to stay home.”

Chapman said Doctors Nova Scotia understands the cost of workplace absenteeism, but sick note visits take away slots from other people who need to see a physician.

“Access to a family doctor is an issue right across the province, and certainly you want those individuals who really need to see their family doctor to be able to get in,” he said.

He also said sick note visits cost MSI money once doctors bill for the service.

Business organizations across Canada say sick days are a multi-million dollar issue.

In 2012, the average Nova Scotian took 9.4 sick days — that's the highest rate in the country.

But still, Rick Clarke with the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour said this should be about logic, and trust.

"It's a very very small portion of people that will take advantage of something — and those who do, find a way to do it anyway. So it's just poor human resource relations to assume everybody's a crook or a cheat," he said.

Chapman said the best defence during the flu system is for employers to make the vaccine available.

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