Physicians are facing an increase in requests for sick notes as Omicron case counts rise and new BC legislation is now in effect providing employees with up to five paid sick days.
Starting January 1, 2022, eligible full and part-time employees in BC can take up to five paid sick days. Some employers are requesting sick notes to provide evidence of illness or ‘return to work’ notes to demonstrate fitness for work.
Sick notes are not required for individuals to be eligible for paid sick leave or to return to their places of work or school. On January 18, 2022, the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) stated that if individuals become ill and take sick days, they do not require a note from their physician to get back to work or school or return to daycare or childcare.
BC Family Doctors believes sick notes place an unnecessary burden on the health care system at a time when physicians are addressing the biggest public health challenge of our time. The provision of a sick note, similar to completion of an insurance form, is not considered a medically necessary service. Patients can be charged a fee by their doctor for the provision of a sick note. If a medically necessary visit is provided to the patient in addition to the writing of a sick note, then the visit is billable to BC’s Medical Services Plan (MSP). If an employer requires a sick note, any charges for the cost of the note are expected to be borne by the patient who should consider requesting reimbursement from their employer.
BC Family Doctors standard COVID-19 sick note is available for physicians to share with patients whose employers are requesting sick notes.