NAPE President Calls for End to Doctor’s Notes for Sick Days

For Immediate Release:

Monday, March 9, 2020

ST. JOHN’S, NL – The President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE) is calling on the provincial government to take action to end or severely limit the requirement for employees to present doctors’ notes for sick days.

Currently, the Newfoundland and Labrador Labour Standards Act requires employees to provide a doctor’s note if on sick leave for three (3) consecutive days or more.

“We are in the midst of another cold and flu season and on top of that, we have heightened concerns relating to COVID-19 (coronavirus). We continue to hear about the precautions that need to be taken to limit the spread of infection/transmission of illnesses, yet employers in this province continue to require doctor’s notes from their employees for sick days,” said NAPE President Jerry Earle. “Put simply – this requirement is a public health risk that should be ended.”

“We should have trust in workers to know what’s best for them, their co-workers, and the public. When someone is sick they should stay home,” said Earle. “Workers should be able to stay home and focus on getting better, not have to head out to a doctor’s office to get a note only to spread viruses and infection.”

“Aside from the public health risk this practice poses, requiring doctor’s notes puts unnecessary stress and strain on our healthcare system – financially, socially, and administratively,” continued Earle. “It’s time for our province to either remove this requirement altogether or substantially increase the consecutive length of time off that would require a note.”

“We must also think about workers who are putting themselves and others at risk by going to work simply because they cannot financially afford to stay home – minimum wage, temporary, call-ins, and other low wage and precarious workplaces,” said Earle. “We need to provide them with some level of paid sick leave so they have the financial ability to stay at home when they are ill.”

“We need to change and adapt with the times,” said Earle. “Many jurisdictions are moving forward on this and the growing body of research shows that eliminating the need for doctor’s notes has many positive outcomes.”

– 30 –