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Dealing with the abuse of medical leave

As an employer, you will undoubtedly have had to deal with many occasions of employees taking an excessive amount of medical leave, leading you to suspect that they were abusing the system. Of course employees have the right to stay at home and recover when they are sick, but believing that your company may be suffering due to those who are abusing their right to sick leave can be concerning.

You might be frustrated by a doctor's note that was unspecific and ambiguous. However, you could be concerned about the consequences of bringing up the issue to your employee. It's important to deal with issues such as these professionally and have a formal procedure.

The good news is that as an employer, you are entitled to a full disclosure of your employees' illnesses and their abilities when it comes to working. You can dismiss an ambiguous doctor's note at your discretion. This is because as an employer, you must accommodate for any restrictions that your employee has in regard to working. Therefore, if you do not know what these restrictions are, you have no way to accommodate them.

If you find yourself in a situation such as this, the best course of action is to contact the employee's doctor and ask for a full breakdown of their limitations to work. You can then form a list of tasks that your employee is able to perform based on the doctor's recommendations.

If you are having problems in dealing with employees that are abusing their sick leave, remember that it is within your rights to terminate their employment if you have proof that they are abusing the system.

Source: Financial Post, "How to deal with employees who abuse sick leave policies," accessed Nov. 29, 2017

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