When Do You Need a Doctor’s Note for Work? 

If you are experiencing an illness or an issue with an injury that is preventing you from working, then it’s important to make sure that you take the right steps to request time off. 

Failure to do this could leave your career in jeopardy and may result in you being let go from a role despite having a valid reason to miss work. This is why you could need a doctor’s note. 

Table of Contents

What Is a Doctor’s Note?

A doctor’s note is a letter that is prepared and written by a trained and qualified medical healthcare professional. It outlines key information regarding a condition whether it’s an injury or illness. 

A note can make it clear that an individual is unable to work due to a condition or suggest that they will not be able to complete certain roles and responsibilities. It is important to note that this is a legal document and the details included will depend on the individual situation. 

While referred to as a doctor’s note in most cases, it can also be provided by any member of staff from a professional medical team. 

How Many Days Can You Call Off Work Without a Doctor’s Note?

You do not always need a doctor’s note to take time off work. However, you will be restricted in terms of how much time you can take without this legal document. By law, you can take a maximum of three consecutive days without a doctor’s note if an illness, medical condition, or injury is cited as the reason. Your employer should never request that you provide a doctor’s note if you take a single day off work due to a medical issue. 

When Should You Get a Doctor’s Note for Work?

Whether or not you should consider obtaining a doctor’s note will depend on the individual policies of your business. It’s true that some employers will suggest that you should provide a note if you intend to miss just one hour of a scheduled shift due to a medical condition. In contrast, other employers may only ask for a note if you are going to miss a week of work. You should also consider your location. Labor laws do differ by state. 

The best way to know if you need a doctor’s note is to check with the HR department for your company. If you have been informed that an injury or illness will require you to take more than a day off work, it is generally best to request a doctor’s note. The most common reasons for time off include minor illness, stress, and musculoskeletal injuries

When Else Could You Need a Doctor’s Note?

There are other reasons why you might require a medical note. For instance, you may be expecting to take extended time off work for medical leave. This could be due to needing surgery as well as a period of recovery. 

Your right to this level of leave is protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, you should still provide a doctor’s note. You may also want to request a doctor’s note for any medical appointment that will require you to take time off work. 

How Can You Get a Doctor’s Note?

It’s easy to get a doctor’s note for work from a medical professional if you do need one to take time off. When you visit a medical facility such as a clinic or a physician’s office, you should inform them that you will need a doctor’s note if time off is required. 

Do note, they may not provide a note like this automatically as requirements can differ from company to company. It is also possible to gain a medical note online if you get an online consultation. When you receive a note, make sure that it provides all the information required and that it is easy to read. 

What Can Be Disclosed on a Doctor’s Note?

The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Requires healthcare providers as well as any medical professionals to keep information about patients protected and secure. As such, they can not provide any information that is deemed sensitive regarding your health without your explicit approval. 

Due to this fact, a doctor’s note will often not include specific information about an injury, illness, or condition. The note will instead affirm that time off work is required and suggest a recommended duration. 

According to The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employers may request further information if this relates to an individual’s position and the roles that they are required to fill at the company. However, this must be handled carefully under the guidelines of the ADA

Get a Doctor’s Note From DrHouse!

If you require a doctor’s note to ensure that you can get the time you need off work or off school, DrHouse can help. Our service is available 24/7 with doctor’s notes available directly from professional online doctors. 

Notes are available after completing a visit with an online doctor who will assess your condition, injury or illness and ensure that you get a note recommending the time off you require. 


Do You Need a Doctor’s Note to Call in Sick to Work?

Whether you need a doctor’s note to call in sick to work will depend on the individual policies of your company and your state’s labor laws. 

Do You Need a Doctor’s Note if You Miss 3 Days of Work?

Generally, you will require a doctor’s note if you miss 3 consecutive days of work. However, some companies will require a note if you need to miss a single shift. 

How Long Until I Need a Sick Note?

The length of time until you need a sick note will depend on your company. This is why it’s always best to check with your HR department. 


Key Takeaways

We hope this helps you understand when you will need a doctor’s note. Remember: 

  • A doctor’s note will provide you with legal evidence you require time off work. 
  • This is available from any medical professional after a consultation 
  • Generally, it is required after three consecutive days off.
  • You will also need a note like this for time off school and time off due to medical treatment such as surgery.


DrHouse articles are written by MDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. The contents of the DrHouse site are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.

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