Can my employer ask for a doctor’s note ifI only called out sick for one day?

My 2 year old son was very sick and I had to call out of work. Now my manager says that I can’t return to work without a note. Is this possible?

Asked on March 11, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Yes, it is legal. The law does not require employers to offer sick days or even unpaid sick time at all--employers may terminate employees who miss work due to their or a loved one's illness, unless the Family and Medical Leave Act or similar state law is invoked. (And from what you write, they would not apply; for example, they don't cover one day absences, but rather longer term or recurring medical needs.)

It is therefore voluntary on the part of employers to allow employees to miss work. And since it is voluntary, they can set conditions or requirements on it, such as requiring some proof of illness and its severity (e.g. a doctor's note).

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