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Can Employers Visit You at Home If You Call in Sick?

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Many American employees use sick days when they aren’t actually sick, but to what lengths can an employer go to verify that an employee who called in sick is actually sick that day?

Ultimately, an employer should take an employee’s statement that he or she is sick at face value; it probably is not worth the time or energy to confirm that every sick day request is for a legitimate medical issue. However, employers may want to track employees who call out on a regular basis, and it is important to know what protections employers can put into place to prevent abusing sick days.

To learn more about your rights as an employee, speak to an Orange County workers compensation lawyer attorney.

How Employers Verify Sick Days

The most common method employers use to verify employee sick day use is requiring doctor’s notes. About 70% of employers require employees to present a doctor’s note upon returning to work after calling out sick. Other employers reported calling employees at home to verify they are actually sick, and a small minority of employers reported actually physically driving to employee’s houses to perform firsthand checks.

An employer visiting an employee at his or her home is not breaking any laws as long as the employer respects the employee’s personal space and privacy. For example, an employer could knock on the door and ask to speak with the employee, but the employer cannot force his or her way into the home to demand to see the employee.

Best Practices for Employers

Usually, an employer should not worry too much about an employee calling out sick unless the employee seems to have developed a habit of using sick days. Employers can try a few methods to cut down on the number of sick day abuses without damaging employee morale or encouraging discrimination claims. Keep a few best practices in mind to prevent sick day abuse without sowing division in your workforce.

  • Welfare checks. If an employee calls out sick the night before a shift or early in the morning before a shift, the employer may want to call the employee later in the day simply to check up on him or her. If the employee does not answer, it would be reasonable for the employer to visit the sick employee’s home to perform a welfare check, just in case.
  • Require check-ins. If an employee develops a serious illness or needs to miss several days of work, it is perfectly reasonable to request check-in phone calls with a supervisor for each day of absence.
  • Refrain from using other employees to check on sick employees. This will ultimately create division in the workforce and may lead to serious tensions between employees. If checking on an employee is necessary, the employer should handle it personally.

It is also important for all employers to remember that several federal regulations protect the privacy of employees and their medical records. An employer cannot demand to review an employee’s medical records simply to check if the employee lied about taking a sick day. This is completely unreasonable and ultimately destructive for the entire workforce.

What to Do If an Employer Violates Your Rights

If you called out sick with a legitimate medical issue and faced harassment or adverse treatment, as a result, you may have grounds for a lawsuit against your supervisor, manager, or employer for creating a hostile work environment. The same applies to an employer who harangues an employee for calling out sick.

Anyone who has experienced this type of situation with an employer should contact an attorney as soon as possible. A good lawyer can help an employee determine if an employer’s behavior was acceptable and in line with all applicable employment laws.