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I have no past history of excess
leave usage or sick leave abuse, but my supervisor asked me for a doctor's note
for one day of sick leave. She
also asked me personal questions regarding my ailment/sickness. Is this line of questioning a
violation of privacy, and can she request a doctor's note?
Dear Special Attention,
your question, I can't tell if your supervisor is out of line or if they have a
genuine concern about your health and welfare, but most likely the former.
tackle the sick note question first. What
may surprise you is that you do not have the right to take sick leave whenever
you feel like it.
you are an employee in the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or the Federal
Employees Retirement System (FERS), sick leave may be granted by the supervisor
for absences for illness, injury, medical or psychological appointments and/or
treatment, adoption of a child, or certain circumstances involving contagious
diseases in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. Sick leave also may be granted for purposes set forth
in the Family and Medical Leave Act and for Sick Leave for Family Care.
we don't plan for illness, most supervisors are understanding and will grant
your leave when you call in with the hoarse voice, cough and wheeze. After all, it is in the best interest of the organization to keep you home so
you get better and don't infect the rest of us with the bird flu, piggy flu or whatever is the ailment of
all know sickness is part of the human experience, but even the most naïve
supervisor will eventually wise up if you are "sick" every time there
is an afterwork happy hour or 3-day weekend.
the answer to your question is... yes, your supervisor can ask for a doctor's
note when he or she has reasonable grounds to suspect sick leave
may be required to provide your supervisor with medical certification:
- for an unscheduled absence in
excess of three (3) consecutive workdays;
- for any use of sick leave if
the individual is officially on leave restriction;
- for a chronic condition which
does not necessarily require medical treatment although absence from work
may be necessary.
But in your particular case, it appears your supervisor is out of line. While supervisors have authority to approve or deny leave requests, they really must have due cause to request a doctor's note for one day of sick leave. So I recommend you ask to meet with your supervisor to clarify her
concerns about your use of sick leave. If after that meeting you feel
that you are being unjustly monitored, meet with your local equal
employment office (EEO) to discuss your options. If you are part of an
employee union, contact your union steward.
Regarding her interest in the particulars of your sick leave request, your supervisor may ask the particulars of your sickness or aliment but you do not
have to tell them.
Your medical history is protected by
the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)
Privacy Rule. So, while your employer can ask for proof of the medical
event, they are not authorized to obtain the level of detail described
in your question.
Again, if you feel
that you are being unjustly monitored, meet with your local EEO to discuss your options.
Or you can use Bureaupat's brazen approach and say you have a rare disease that can only be transmitted to nosy supervisors. That usually does the trick.
Yours in Gov,
More Q&A from Bureaupat:
[+] Can a retired federal employee be rehired for an hourly wage?
[+] Can I use my 12 weeks of sick leave prior to retirement?
[+] Would a 30-day LWOP be considered a creditable service break?