Q & A: What can you do when holistic healer won’t provide doctor’s note?


Question Corner

What can you do when holistic healer won’t provide doctor’s note?

By Jason R. Mau

Q: One of our employees went to a holistic healer who isn’t a certified practitioner, and he advised her that she needs a week off work. He won’t write her a doctor’s excuse and will only speak to someone via telephone. Our attendance policy states that missing that much work requires a doctor’s note. Are we violating this employee’s rights if we discipline her for an attendance policy violation?

A: Employers are not prohibited from adopting policies requiring all employees to provide documentation from a doctor to substantiate the need for extended leave.  As long as you are enforcing the policy, and enforcing it consistently, you are not violating the employee’s rights if you discipline her for the violation.  This remains true even if it were a serious health condition covered under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), as the federal law allows employers to deny leave if an employee fails to cooperate with a request for certification.   

Q: We have an employee who has been on military leave since 2014 and was recently released. Our policy is to continue to pay employees on military leave 25 percent of their base pay. We know this employee has 90 days from her release date to reapply for employment and be reinstated, but are we required to continue to pay her during that 90-day period?

A: Under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), employers are not required to compensate employees who are performing military service; thus the law does not require you to pay her during this reapplication period.    

Q: Our company is moving to an unlimited PTO policy. Can we just eliminate employees’ existing PTO balances once we make that move?   

A: In Idaho, there is no law that requires employers to pay for vacation or sick leave.  However, if you have a policy that compensates employees for accrued PTO at separation, then it will be an earned benefit that needs to be accounted for when you transition to the unlimited PTO policy.  Depending on your policy and the circumstances, you may have a few options available to account for these remaining balances, including, but not limited to, paying it out during transition or paying it out when the employee departs from the company.

Q: Where do pre-employment and post-employment drug testing records go? In the personnel file or in a separate medical file?

A: No law requires that the drug testing records be stored in a separate medical file; however, the Department of Transportation regulations, for example, require the records to be stored in a secure location with controlled access.  Many HR professionals recommend keeping drug testing records separate from personnel and medical files to ensure that an employee who asks to review records does not come across confidential materials.

Jason R. Mau is an attorney with Greener Burke Shoemaker Oberrecht, P.A.  He can be reached at 208-319-2600 or jmau@greenerlaw.com.