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Would Doctors Notes Reduce Sick Leave?

Published: February 24, 2016

With the topic of sick leave in the Canadian news this week due to the Government’s moves to repeal laws moving for a public service sick leave system without union negotiations, we are looking at the subject of doctor’s notes, illness, and absenteeism in greater detail in this Mitrefinch blog.

Doctors notes for illness – are they effective at reducing absenteeism?

New research published by The Finnish Institute for Occupational Health has looked at answering the question of whether or not doctor’s notes for illness are effective for reducing absenteeism.

The surprising results of the study suggest that staff do not actually take any more sick leave when they are not required to supply a doctor’s note. The obvious implication of this research is that the policy of employers requiring a doctor’s note is ineffective against reducing absenteeism and unwarranted absences.

The same study also found that staff certifying sick leave by themselves (instead of a doctor) is conducive to building feelings of trust in the workplace.

Top causes of absenteeism
It seems that it is more important than ever to address the underlying issues for absenteeism. A recent report pointed at the top ten causes of absenteeism, giving company decision makers a good place to start looking if they are experiencing higher than acceptable levels of absenteeism. They are childcare, accidents, sickness, bullying, flexibility, poor leadership, bereavement, changing work environment, travel, and ergonomics.


For further advice on managing sick leave, and better managing employee absences, please visit

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