Doctors admonish employers for sick notes, send $50 invoices

In a letter addressed, 'Dear Employer,' doctors call out workplaces that demand a sick note from ill employees saying it's an 'added burden on the healthcare system,' and will result in a $50 invoice sent directly to bosses.

Letter from 4 Pemberton doctors says notes proving workers are sick, an 'added burden'

The Pemberton Medical Clinic says it is sending $50 invoices to employers demanding sick notes from ill employees. (iStock)

The Pemberton Medical Clinic is circulating a strongly written letter admonishing employers who require sick notes from workers who are ill and is charging $50 for the notes through invoices sent directly to organizations.

"Employers with a sick note policy for missed time puts an added burden on the health-care-system," reads the letter, which is signed by four doctors and one nurse practitioner.

The letter was composed by Dr. Nick Fisher who did not give an interview to CBC News, saying the letter speaks for itself.

The Pemberton Medical Clinic on Portage Road in Pemberton B.C. (Google Maps)

The four-paragraph letter — which draws its language from a similar move in Nova Scotia — argues most workers who require sick notes should not be going to the clinic, where they could spread germs to vulnerable patients.

"Visiting a doctor's office or an emergency room for a medical note does not support their recovery," reads the letter which adds the best recovery for most sick workers is to stay at home, rest and drink fluids.

The clinic says providing sick notes is not insured by the province's Medical Services Plan so the clinic says all future notes must be requested through employers, and upon providing the note, the clinic will send on an invoice for $50.

"This is standard practice to fulfill non-medically necessary services for third-party organizations," reads the letter.

It ends by encouraging businesses to consider changing their policies to "help reduce the unnecessary burden on our health care-system."

Anthony Ariganello, CEO with the Human Resources Management Association, says he understands the concerns of doctors over sick notes and that it is an issue across the country.

"But at the same time you've got to balance the employers concerns with respect to sick days and what happens when many individuals are off on a frequent basis," he said. "They're trying to manage costs."

Dr. Alan Ruddiman, the president of the Doctors of B.C., says his organization is supportive of physicians trying to recover costs for writing sick notes, which he calls, 'a waste of human resources and the health care system.' (Don Marce/CBC)

Meanwhile Doctors of B.C., which represents physicians in the province, says it supports the Pemberton clinic's move to recover fees for sick notes directly from employers.

"This is beyond the scope of the medical services plan pays for," said the organization's president Alan Ruddiman "Physicians are clearly entitled to recover revenues for any service they provide that's not funded through the health care system."

To cut down on absenteeism, Ariganello suggests organizations look to improve working conditions for employees as employers with strong corporate culture often record fewer sick days.

A letter circulated by doctors and a nurse practitioner at the Pemberton Medical Clinic saying the clinic will charge employers who demand sick notes. (Pemberton Medical Clinic/Facebook)