Effective July 1, Nova Scotia Government Introduces Sweeping Health Care Legislation: Changes to Sick Note Requirements and Health-Care Professional Licensing.
**Sick Note Requirements: Less Burden on Physicians and Patients**
Effective July 1st, provincially regulated employers in Nova Scotia can now only request sick notes when employees are absent for over five consecutive working days or have had two non-consecutive absences of five days or less in the past year. This move is anticipated to save physicians approximately 50,000 hours (about five and a half years) of work annually.
Furthermore, healthcare professionals other than doctors in Nova Scotia can now sign medical notes. Notes can now come from regulated healthcare providers such as nurses, dentists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, or social workers.
Where does this leave employers?
First, if employers are waiting for a doctor’s note, they are also subscribing to a reactionary model that would see the duration of absences be unnecessarily long.
Employers should be relying on preventative processes that see absence policies that track and involve communication with the employee before the five-day mark. This will alert the employer whether they are dealing with a true medical issue or something else such as an HR-related matter. In a lot of cases, medical absences are used for other purposes.
If there are medical issues, and the absence is going beyond 5 days, these matters should be reviewed by the company doctor. If necessary, have the company doctor speak with the treating physician to understand the objective medical issues and work collaboratively on a return-to-work plan.
This legislation is in keeping with Workplace Medical Corp.’s long-time position that companies do not rely on physician notes. Our founder, Dr. Frank Shapiro was fond of saying “Family doctors should not be the truant officers for the industry”.
Workplace Medical helps organizations deal with doctors’ notes and reduce avoidable absenteeism. Contact us to learn more.