Can my job verify a doctor’s excuse?

I missed 2 days of work due to illness. Came back from work and my job had called my doc to verify doctors excuse. I was no disclosure while in the hospital. Can my job still call to verify docs excuse?

Asked on November 30, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

1) Yes, an employer may call to verify a doctor's excuse--the employer does not have to take the employee at his/her word. Remember: an employer, in the absence of an employment contract providing for it, does not need to allow an employee to take time off for illness or provide sick days at all--it is legal for an employer to terminate an employee who misses work for any reason, if it chose. (The exception would be if the company and the employee were both eligible for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, and that's the leave the employee took.)

Of course, most employers don't do that, but the improtant principal is that since a sick leave/sick day policy is voluntary, employers are free to decide to confirm illness...and indeed, even under FMLA leave, employers are allowed seek confirmation of the medical need for time off.

2) The employer may call your doctor. It may well have been improper for the doctor to release any information, unless you consented to it--but if it was improper, that was the doctor's error, and potential liability, not the employers. Even if he/she can't tell, they are allowed to ask.

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