One of the common mistakes that employees make that’s rarely their fault is providing a very generic, insufficient medical note to the employer in support of their absence. This is the type of note that does not properly put the employer on notice of that employee’s disability or FMLA qualifying medical condition. As a result, it doesn’t trigger the employer’s respective obligation that comes with a proper notice. Typically, that kind of note would say something like “This is to notify (the employer) that Ms. Jones has been unable to work… due to illness.” It doesn’t explain even in the most general way what the limitations of that employee were, and the employer is left to guess whether it was something as trivial as a headache or a flue or something more serious.
If no further description of the condition and the resulting limitations is provided, the employer simply has no way of knowing whether the employee a serious medical condition that might obligate them to provide medical leave to that employee or some other accommodation. Doctors also often don’t know what information is necessary to include in the medical note in order to put the employer on proper notice of an employee’s serious illness.
Therefore, it is important that you yourself look at the medical note that you receive from your doctor. When you do that, put yourself in your employer’s shoes. Ask yourself whether that note gives your employer the right and sufficient idea of what’s wrong with you, and why you need FMLA leave or some other type of leave or accommodation.
Insufficient medical note is one of the more common reasons for misunderstandings and miscommunication between an employee and employer that lead to unnecessary issues and even terminations. If you make sure that you medical note is sufficient, these issues can and should be easily avoided, unless, of course, your employer is looking to fire you for other legal or illegal reasons. For more information about FMLA, please read about FMLA leave and reinstatement rights.