How to Get a Sick Note from a Doctor Online

Juliet D'cruz

Updated on:

In the Before Times, it may have been kind of okay to go to work sick. But now it’s COVID times, and if you show up sick, you might get turned away at the front door — or heavily sick-shamed at the very least. But you still might need a doctor’s note to show your boss, especially if you need to miss more than a day or two of work.

You don’t have to don a mask and gloves and go into your doctor’s office to get a sick note for work — and that’s probably a good thing, since you might be contagious and even if you aren’t, you’d rather be in bed. It’s easier than ever to get a doctor’s note for work — you can even do it online. If you need medical treatment, you can see the doctor online for your condition, and get the sick note too. Here’s what you need to do.

Verify That You Need a Sick Note

You might not always need a doctor’s sick note for every illness. It depends on your job. Some companies require a note for even the most minor illnesses, which could have you frantically video conferencing with your family doctor over every cold. Other companies will take your word for it that you’re sick if it’s only a day or two, but at a certain point, they’ll require that you provide confirmation from your doctor that you really are ill and really can’t come to work. 

Figure out what your company’s policy is, but also research your state laws. The law may place limits on how often and when your employer can require a sick note, but it may also grant your employer certain rights to verify your illness. You should also make sure your employer requires a note from the actual doctor — some instead ask employees to write a letter themselves explaining their absence, which is then filed in their employee records.

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Know What Information Your Sick Note Should Include

This is another reason you should check with your company before getting a doctor’s excuse for work — you’ll need to know exactly what information to put in the note. Your boss can help you out, and you can bring it up when you call out sick. Rather than putting down the exact nature of your illness, the doctor can verify that you were ill, prescribe a certain number of days off, and lay out any accommodations you might need when you come back to work. While the note doesn’t have to specify your diagnosis — and your doctor can’t put it down anyway — it should contain details about your limitations and how much time you will need to take off of work for recovery. This information will help your employer accommodate your ongoing care, especially if you have a chronic condition or disability.

Ask Your Doctor for the Note

If you’re hoping to get treatment as well as a doctor’s note for work, don’t forget to ask for the note. It can be easy to get caught up in the particulars of explaining your symptoms to the doctor and getting treatment advice, so that you forget you needed to ask for a sick note, too. Write down a list of your symptoms before your telehealth appointment, and make sure to include asking for a sick note as the last item on your list, so you’ll remember.

Of course, maybe you already know what you have, and maybe the best treatment for whatever you have is to drink plenty of fluids, get a lot of rest, and keep an eye on your symptoms. If you have to schedule a telehealth appointment just to ask for a doctor’s note, well, you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do. Asking for the note is pretty straightforward. Be careful to give the doctor the correct information your company requires, and if you need the note written on company letterhead or on a company form, make sure you provide that to your doctor. Doctors are used to writing these kinds of notes, but you should still let them know of anything that’s unusual about your requirements.

Getting a doctor’s note for work is kind of a hassle, but at least these days you don’t have to go into the office to get one anymore. You can get a doctor’s note online with a lot less fuss and effort — which is especially good news if you have a strict employer. So don’t go into work sick — keep your germs at home and get the rest you need to feel better.

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