what is a Doctors Note

A doctor’s note is a written notice from a qualified healthcare provider that outlines basic information about a medical condition, such as an illness or injury. The note may excuse the patient from work entirely or indicate what duties they cannot perform due to a medical condition. This legal document may also simply affirm that a patient was seen in the office for a legitimate medical need without disclosing any details about the individual’s condition.

What is a doctor's note?

A doctor’s note is a written notice from a qualified healthcare provider that outlines basic information about a medical condition, such as an illness or injury. The note may excuse the patient from work entirely or indicate what duties they cannot perform due to a medical condition. This legal document may also simply affirm that a patient was seen in the office for a legitimate medical need without disclosing any details about the individual’s condition.

Although such a note is commonly referred to as a doctor’s note, it may be produced by the staff at a medical office or hospital. It typically includes the date and time you saw a healthcare professional, any recommended or required limitations and whether an absence period from work is required. The limitations and absence requirements are especially important if you need to adjust your duties or miss multiple shifts or days of work.

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When should you get a doctor's note for work?

The need to obtain a doctor's note for work depends on your employer's policy. Some employers require a doctor's note for employees who have to miss an hour of their scheduled shift, while others only require a note if an employee misses a week or more of work. Another factor is the location in which you live. State and local labor laws can require employees to provide documentation from their healthcare providers when they are unable to work.

If you become ill or injured or need to schedule a doctor's appointment during your working hours, check with your company's HR department to determine whether they require a doctor's note. It is generally easier and more convenient to get a note during your visit, so finding out in advance helps you get what you need to adhere to the company policy. When you consult with the HR representative, find out what the doctor needs to include in the note as well. You can provide this detail to your healthcare provider to get a sufficient note.

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Extended medical leave and disability accommodations

Individuals with injuries that require special accommodations or ongoing periods of absence may need to request extended medical leave. For example, if you have to undergo surgery that will require several weeks of recovery time, you may need to use the benefits offered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Special accommodations may be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as well.

Under the FMLA

, people who meet certain illness or injury criteria can take up to 12 workweeks off during a 12-month period. The workweeks can be consecutive, but you do not have to take them all at once. Employers with at least 50 employees must provide this benefit to employees who have worked at least 1,250 hours over the last 12 months and have worked for that employer for at least 12 months. Under the FMLA, the time an employee takes off is unpaid, but they may be able to use short-term or long-term disability benefits.

Examples of qualified FMLA situations include:

When caring for an adopted child or a child in foster care

When giving birth and caring for a newborn child

When unable to work due to a serious medical condition

When caring for an immediate family member, such as a parent, child or spouse, with a serious health condition

When dealing with emergencies related to the active military duty of a family member

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