Williams Lake physicians are now charging employers for sick notes. Pxhere photo

Williams Lake doctors to bill employers for sick notes

Sick note appointments, they said, increase doctors’ workload, taking valuable appointment time away from patients who require care urgently

Employers requesting sick notes from a sick employee will be billed $43.90 by doctors in Williams Lake.

“Our physicians stand with Doctors of BC in advocating that this cost should be covered by the employer — not the patient or the doctor,” stated a letter obtained by the Tribune that was penned on behalf of local family physicians.

If an employer requires a sick note for an illness that would not normally require a visit to a doctor, it means people need to visit doctors’ offices, walk-in clinics, and emergency departments to obtain one, the letter noted.

“This can result in germs being spread to pregnant women, cancer patients, elderly people, and other immunocompromised individuals, all of whom are vulnerable to communicable diseases.”

Sick note appointments also increase doctors’ workload, taking valuable appointment time away from patients who require care urgently.

Read more: Doctors at Pemberton clinic call on employers to start paying for sick notes

The physicians said they recognize patients are not at fault for visiting their offices when an employer requests a sick note and that is why they are undertaking a campaign— including posters, ads, and letters to local businesses—to help employers understand the impact of sick note policies and encourage them to change their approach.

In a survey released earlier this month by Ipsos on behalf of the Canadian Medical Association, 75 per cent of Canadians said they did not think an employer should make employees get a doctor’s note to take sick time.

Read more: Doctor’s note shouldn’t be required to prove you’re sick: poll

Sick notes and return-to-work requests are non-insured services, which means they are not covered by the Medical Services Plan (MSP).

Changes to B.C.’s employment legislation may be coming in the future, but until such change occurs, the doctors in Williams Lake hope local employers will consider adjusting their absenteeism policies.

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