Consortium Call of the Month

Category: Education Matters
Date: Mar 27, 2020 01:51 PM

Members of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore’s employment relations consortiums may speak directly to an LCW attorney free of charge regarding questions that are not related to ongoing legal matters that LCW is handling for the agency, or that do not require in-depth research, document review, or written opinions.  Consortium call questions run the gamut of topics, from leaves of absence to employment applications, disciplinary concerns to disability accommodations, labor relations issues and more.  This feature describes an interesting consortium call and how the question was answered.  We will protect the confidentiality of client communications with LCW attorneys by changing or omitting details.

Question: A human resources manager called LCW to ask whether the district could request a doctor’s note from an employee who called in sick for the third consecutive day.

Answer:  The attorney explained that California’s Paid Sick Leave law is silent as to whether employers can request medical verification. There is a risk of liability for violating this law if the employer insists on getting a doctor’s note before it permits the use of this type of paid sick leave. This law requires employers to provide employees with paid sick leave upon oral or written request, and allows the employee to determine how much sick leave to use. It further provides that employers cannot deny the right to use sick leave.

An employer’s insistence on medical verification for this type of paid sick leave is risky because employees could claim a denial of their paid sick leave entitlement.  The employer’s risk in requiring verification, however, would most likely only apply to the first 24 hours or 3 days of paid sick leave used in a 12-month period.  After this type of sick leave is used, any other type of sick leave provided by an employer through an MOU or internal policy, however, could be subject to medical verification requirements. 

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