Doctors will have more time to take care of their patients as the Province’s new rules for sick notes come into force.
As of Saturday, July 1, Nova Scotia employers can no longer request a sick note unless an employee is absent for more than five working days or has already had two absences of five or fewer working days in the previous 12-month period.
When employees do need a sick note, another change allows other healthcare professionals besides doctors to provide it. Notes can come from any regulated healthcare provider who is providing care, such as nurses, dentists, pharmacists, physiotherapists or social workers.
“Our healthcare professionals should spend their valuable time providing care, not doing paperwork,” said Health and Wellness Minister Michelle Thompson. “By reducing unnecessary administrative tasks like writing sick notes, we free up time for doctors and other healthcare providers to help more Nova Scotians get the healthcare they need, faster.”
Nova Scotia’s Office of Regulatory Affairs and Service Effectiveness consulted with doctors to understand the administrative burden of sick notes. It is estimated that doctors in Nova Scotia spend 100,000 hours a year writing sick notes.
The labour standards division of the Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration has the right to investigate and address complaints made in relation to requests for sick notes. Nova Scotians can contact the division at 1-888-315-0110 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to report concerns.
Reducing the administrative burden on doctors so they have more time to provide care is part of Action for Health, the government’s plan to improve healthcare.
Nova Scotians who are sick should not have to worry about going to the doctor to ask for a sick note. Employers should only ask for sick notes in limited circumstances, as outlined in the act.
Jill Balser, Minister of Labour, Skills and Immigration
- changes to the rules around sick notes are in the Medical Certificates for Employee Absences Act, which the legislature passed in the spring as part of the Patient Access to Care Act
- prior to this legislation taking effect, employers could request a sick note regardless of the length of an employees’ absence due to illness or injury
- the Patient Access to Care Act also includes administrative rules to make it easier for licensed healthcare providers from other jurisdictions to work in Nova Scotia
- and, the act amended the Workers' Compensation Act to allow the government to prescribe Workers Compensation Board forms and documents to improve the process for Nova Scotians and doctors
Action for Health, the government’s plan to improve healthcare in Nova Scotia: https://novascotia.ca/actionforhealth/
Mandate letter of the Minister of Health and Wellness: https://novascotia.ca/exec_council/letters-2021/ministerial-mandate-letter-2021-DHW.pdf
Nova Scotia employment rights: https://novascotia.ca/lae/employmentrights/
Patient Access to Care Act: https://nslegislature.ca/legc/bills/64th_1st/3rd_read/b256.htm
NOTE: The estimated number of hours doctors spend writing sick notes was corrected to 100,000 hours on July 6, 2023.