A smart employer will only ask you for medical information or proof of hospital appointment when absolutely necessary. It is not in the employer’s interest to know a lot of medical information about its workers. Information and knowledge like this could potentially be used against you in a discrimination case.
Additionally, having sensitive information tends to create an opportunity for a breach of the employee’s privacy. In the United States, there are limitations on how, when, and why an employer may ask for this information, but there is still a lot of room for an employer to manoeuvre.
Even though your employer might give you time off work to visit the doctor or dentist, they are not mandated by law to do so. It is always advisable you check your contract of employment to see if it says you can have time off for these appointments.
If your contract fails to say you can have time off, your employer can insist you have these appointments outside work hours, take holiday leave or make the time up later on. If you’re disabled and your employer won’t let you take time off for a medical appointment connected with your disability, they could be discriminating against you.
However, there are certain circumstances that can prompt the request for proof of Hospital Appointment, and there are employer’s policies governing such requests. They include;
Circumstances Where an Employer Can Request Proof of Hospital Appointment
Note that an employer may generally request a doctor’s note or proof of appointment as part of its sick leave or attendance policy.
Nonetheless, such a practice must be uniformly applied. The required note is not expected to seek a diagnosis / medical condition; rather, the note just seeks to verify that the employee was seen by the healthcare provider and stipulate any period of incapacity or job – related restrictions.
Have it in mind that requesting more information could run afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Additionally, federal contractors mandated by law and contract to provide paid sick leave may ask for a doctor’s note/proof only for absences of three or more consecutive full days.
And the employer is expected to notify the employee of the requirement to provide a doctor’s note/proof of hospital appointment before the employee returns to work. Employers must also be familiar with any restrictions under state and local paid – sick – leave laws.
Have it in mind that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows employers to ask employees to obtain a completed certification from the worker’s healthcare provider to substantiate the need for FMLA leave.
Note that this subsequent request for a proof of appointment or a doctor’s note is generally considered a request for recertification, which is only permitted every 6 months or under certain circumstances. Additionally, if an employee is returning from FMLA leave, a fitness – for – duty request is permitted as described in FMLA Regulation 825.312.
In the United States, it is generally permissible for employers to require a doctor’s note, proof of appointment, or release to return to work following a work – related injury or illness.
Note that the ADA gives room for employers to request information from a doctor to find out more about the employee’s impairment and to know whether it has reached the level of an ADA disability when the disability or need for accommodation is not apparent.
Remember that this information may also be used to learn more about the severity of functional limitations and accommodation possibilities. However, this inquiry is expected to be limited to just the condition that requires accommodation.
The EEOC provides enforcement guidance for disability – related inquiries and medical examination of employees under the ADA.
Additionally, if an employee is returning from a health – related absence and the employer has a reasonable belief that the employee presents a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals at work, employers are expected to seek legal advice regarding how to proceed.
The employer might also be able to request a note from the employee’s doctor stating that the employee is not contagious or to identify any workplace modifications that may be needed to protect the health and safety of others.
But the most important thing is for such an inquiry not to violate the ADA if the employer is unable to demonstrate certain criteria such as job relatedness and that the medical inquiry is consistent with business necessity. Note that even in situations where the illness is not a disability under the ADA, privacy and discrimination laws restrict an employer’s ability to make medical inquiries that are not job – related.
Things Employers Can Ask About Regarding an Employee’s Medical Condition
By right, employers need to know where they stand in order to avoid breaking the law. But it is always advisable that they try to be sensitive to the needs of each employee beyond what the law requires.
Things that employers can ask about an employee’s medical condition:
- Employers are allowed to ask questions that help them to determine if they need to make reasonable adjustments. This might include an adapted working environment, or additional flexibility.
- Questions can be asked for monitoring purposes.
- An employer is also allowed to ask about a medical condition if it is thought that the condition might affect the employee’s ability to do their job. For example, the Armed Forces cannot employ individuals that have had two or more seizures since the age of 6, or have a diagnosis of epilepsy.
Things Employers Can’t Ask About Regarding An Employee’s Medical Condition
- An employer by law is not allowed to ask a medical professional for an employee’s medical records, or information about an employee’s health, without permission from the employee. Even if the employee approves this, they have a right to check the records before they are passed on.
- Employers are also not allowed to request that an employee discloses information about any health conditions that arise during employment. Employees might choose to volunteer information, and if they do then the employer is required to make reasonable adjustments to support the employee in their work.
- Note that if an employer is making reasonable adjustments for an employee then they can seek advice from relevant authorities, but again they cannot do this without the employee’s consent.
Medical conditions can seem like a complicated subject for employers. While on the one hand they might affect an employee’s ability to work, or lead to changes and adaptations being required, but on the other hand medical conditions are a personal subject with details that an employee might not want to disclose.
However, note that an employer can’t dismiss you or treat you unfairly for taking time off work when you have a right to do so. If your employer does dismiss you or treat you unfairly for taking time off, you should get help from an experienced adviser.