LETTER: Skip the sick note for now

Advice to employers on coronavirus from a health care provider

An open letter to employers in Nelson regarding sick notes:

You are all aware there is a public health concern right now globally regarding the new coronavirus. As a result, the public health community has new recommendations. We are asking people who are sick to stay at home, unless they’re sick enough to require medical care.

This means we’re asking people with a cold or flu not to come to the doctor’s office. We’re trying to slow the spread of this virus by limiting waiting room contact. We’re also asking people with a cold not to go to work until they’re well, again to reduce the transmission rate. If you require a work excuse from your employees for sick days, then you’re asking them to go against basic public health recommendations, for the formality of a note to “prove” they had a cold.

I’m not a businessperson, so this may make good sense as a business practice, but I am a local health care provider, and I can say this is definitely not good public health practice. I am requesting that, for the time being, employees who call in sick to work not be required to produce a doctor’s note. There are a lot of small things community members can do to slow the spread of this virus in individual communities. No, we don’t have any cases identified in the Kootenays … yet.

On the other hand, when we do identify a case, that will mean there are many others not yet identified in the area as well, so if we can put some basic community protocols in place it may ease the burden on the health care system when the virus does arrive in the area.

To all the rest: no, this is not a call to panic. Wash your hands, keep them off your face, and stay home if you have a cold or flu.

Mike Magier


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