Doctor’s report

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about employer asking for evidence of illness:

I have been off work for the last 2 weeks and yesterday my Doctor signed me off for a further month. My workplace is now asking for a Doctor’s Report. Can they do this?

Signed, Frustrated

Dear Frustrated:

Yes, your workplace can ask for a reasonable amount of information to determine whether they think you could return if work was adjusted, or if they think the time off is excessive. Most HR sections are aware of what can be requested and your doctor will almost certainly know the limitations of what he or she can and will provide.It appears there is a conflict about your time off and your injury. Have you considered talking to your manager and HR about it? I suggest this because I have repeatedly seen employees who were out on injuries become so alienated from their managers and others that they never were able to regain a positive feeling about work. At the same time, those at work–managers and coworkers, resented what was perceived as malingering to get paid while not working.

The best way to avoid that is to check in often, keep up on work situations, express concern about work problems, talk about “when I can come back” and in other ways let people know you want to return.You may also want to directly ask HR what materials they need from your doctor. Do it in a courteous way that shows you want to cooperate, rather than a hostile way that acts like you resent being asked.The truth is that even thirty years ago most people would be laid off work if they could not return immediately. There were no maternity leaves or family medical leave, and often no help to those who were injured, unless it was directly related to work.Times have changed in that way, but still when you are gone, work goes on and someone must do what you would have done if you were there. It’s natural for employers to want to get employees back as soon as possible if they are paying your salary and benefits or even just holding the job for you.It will help you to consider that perspective, while at the same time not allowing your private records to be reviewed in greater detail than the law allows. Best wishes as you work through your situation and also as you strengthen your relationships at work!

Tina Lewis Rowe