Doctor's Note Needed?

An ee (maintenance supervisor), has some medical issues that are in the diagnosis stage--including being seen by a neurologist. The only restriction we have currently is that he cannot be on ladders. Symptoms include incoherence, belligerence, slurred speech and non-recognition by the ee when these symptoms are occurring.

EE's work includes maintenance supervision of high pressure high temperature equipment. We feel that he is a safety hazard to himself and others when he has one of these "episodes." He had an episode this past Friday and was told to go home and not return until he had a doctor's note saying that he was essentially fit for duty. He came to our facility this Monday after he saw his doctor and told us that the doctor would not provide him with a note. He was then sent home. It is now Thursday and we have not heard from the doctor, although we have called his office several times. We have also not heard from the ee.

Is our current approach appropriate? Is there anything else we can or should be doing?


  • 5 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • I would be sure the hazardous items are included in his job description. Give it to him, along with a letter to the doctor asking if the employee can perform the duties as listed in the job description. Tell him to give both to his doctor. If the doctor won't say he is fit for duty, put him on medical leave until he is or FMLA if applicable.
  • joannie,

    The ee signed a waiver so that we may discuss his health issues directly with the doctor. In light of this, would you suggest sending the letter directly to the doctor with a copy to the ee?

    Also, what medical leave are you referring to other than family medical leave--which, at this time anyway, does not seem applicable?
  • Depending on the circumstance we offer a non-paid medical leave if warranted for ee's not covered by FMLA. Generally, the employee has to have completed the 90 day introductory period and have satisfactory job performance to be considered for what amounts to a non-paid leave of absence. Our policy requires that any employee on any type of non-paid leave be responsible for 100% of the cost of benefits. Haven't had anyone abuse it yet.

    Just in case it does turn in to an FMLA issue, I would advise against speaking with the doctor even though you have the waiver. That's just my opinion, though.
  • FYI - The appointment(s) to determine whether or not a serious health condition exist ARE covered under FMLA and since he has been seen by a health care provider on more than one occasion (with more to come), I would conditionally consider this as FMLA and provide him with the appropriate paperwork.

    In addition, the new FMLA regs. call for the employer to attach a copy of the job description with the certification papers and that is what the HCP is to use to detemine an employee's ability to, or not to, work.

    My recommendation would be to contact the EE, find out what is happening and go from there. Find out WHY the doctor will not provide a note regarding his ability to work - maybe the doctor feels he should not be working.

    As for contacting the doctor directly, why would you do that??? Do you want to get into the situation where you are doing this for all EEs?

    Finally - you state that you told him that he could not return to work without a doctor's note - what did you tell him about continuing contact with you?
  • LindaS,

    Some very good comments.

    We contacted the ee's doctor directly because the ee was not forthcoming with information. That is the underlying concern we have--the ee is not being forthcoming, perhaps not being truthful and he is not providing a clear understanding of his medical condition. I was looking for guidance on how to get additional information either from his doctor or from the ee on his medical condition.

    We did not tell the ee about continuing contact with us--but we will--thanks for your input.

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