Last week the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NLMA) sent a letter to its members announcing the organization has formally adopted the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) policies on Short-Term Illness Certificate and Third-Party Forms: The Physician’s Role, and have asked physicians in the province to follow the principles of these policies.
The NLEC was not consulted in the adoption of these policies or the development of this form. Some of the changes or clarifications made in the adoption of these policies may address employer concerns, including the adoption of a standard Third-Party Medical Certificate form and recognition that physicians should no longer provide medical certificates unless the patient has been under the care of the physician.
The NLEC is concerned, however, that the NLMA is advising doctors that they should no longer provide medical certificates unless the patient has been off work for at least five days.
The Labour Standards Act (Section 43.11 (2)) states that an employee shall provide his or her employer with a certificate from a qualified medical practitioner for a period of three or more consecutive days of sick leave. Many collective agreement’s also contain provisions requiring a medical certificate for consecutive absences that are shorter than the NLMA’s new policy. The NLMA acknowledges this, and has advised physicians they should use their discretion when the patient is a member of a union subject to such an agreement.
The NLEC has spoken to the NLMA and has been in the media encouraging physicians to cooperate and provide employers with the information needed to effectively manage absenteeism and return employees to work. This includes the provision of doctor’s notes for absences due to illnesses less than five days, where necessary. The NLEC will continue to make representation to both the College of Physicians and Surgeons and the NLMA on this issue.
For more information, view the NLEC’s notice to members on this issue.