Can you ask your employees for proof on sick days?

What is the legality of requiring your employees to provide proof that they were sick?

As many cities and states are now passing mandatory sick laws, employers now have an added reason to review their sick day policies. The main question here is what kind of proof, if any, should an employer ask of his worker in order to be able to call in sick.

Let’s have a look at some of the legal principles that stand behind requiring proof for sick days.

Federal status

While some states like California have mandatory paid sick leave laws, there is still no federal law that makes employers give their workers paid sick leave. In fact, a number of states have barred cities and counties from enacting mandatory sick day legislation, so the matter is still far from being decided.

Meanwhile, you should make sure that your business complies with all state and city laws, regardless of what kind of notification is required of your employees. In California, employees need only give “reasonable advance notification” (Healthy Families Act of 2014) – there is no mention if an employer can ask for further proof, like a medical note.

Depending on state and city laws, an employer might be forced to provide paid sick days for certain health conditions or preventative care. In such cases, denying a request for a lack of proof may be illegal.

Can Require Proof for FMLA Leave

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) states that employees who want to take an extended sick leave have to provide proof under federal law, in case the employer asks for it. Usually an employee has 15 days to provide proof that the requested sick leave is for a valid reason (surgery, physical therapy, etc.). This can be provided in the form of a doctor’s note.

Note that providing FMLA notice is the employer’s responsibility, not the employees.