Quick Guide to Getting a Doctor’s Note For Work

It’s a forgone conclusion—an inevitability, really—that we’ll all get sick and have to miss work at some point during our careers. It just happens sometimes. Whether it’s the common cold, flu, rhinovirus, or some other ailment, you might end up missing work or school. On some occasions, you may even end up going on an extended leave of absence. Either way, your employer will probably require a doctor’s note. But what is a doctor’s note and how do you get one? It’s a remarkably straightforward process but does have its fair share of nuance and challenges associated with it. Human frailty and illness can’t always be avoided, so we put together a quick guide to getting one for work. Read it below.

What is a Doctor’s Note?

Simply put, a doctor’s note is a legal document from your physician to confirm you were seen by them. It also often serves as a protective document to keep you from work or school due to medical reasons. A typical note will simply contain a date you were seen, a confirmation of the appointment/illness, and a return to work/school date. It will never be more detailed than that. It’s also worth noting that writing one of these documents will never violate your HIPAA rights or the HIPAA Privacy Rule, and will only contain as much or as little information as you allow, including the dates/date range for which the doctor is excusing you. A typical physician’s note might cover an extended absence, hospital stays a one to two-day absence, or potential work restrictions your employer will need to accommodate due to an injury.

Know When You Need To Get One

The interesting thing about notes supplied by doctors is that your employer or school may not always require them. But when they do, you’ll need to know and understand when to seek out getting a doctor’s note. Many companies will require a doctor’s note if you’re going to have some kind of extended absence. This doesn’t necessarily mean weeks or months; it can be just a couple of days. Employers are allowed to ask for a note, as long as they implement the same policy across the entire organization, but they shouldn’t be inquiring about the specifics of your visit, injury, or health issue. A good rule of thumb for deciding when to get a doctor’s note is if you’re going to miss work or school for any reason and may be out for an extended period due to injury/illness.

What A doctors Note Will Cover

A doctor’s note is remarkably versatile as to what it covers. When it comes down to it, notes typically cover the following:

  • One or two-day absence
  • Long Term illness
  • Pregnancy
  • Hospitalization
  • Special accommodations
  • Workman’s Compensation
  • ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)
  • FMLA (family medical leave act)

As with any organization, there may be some exceptions over different considerations to take, but your privacy will remain intact since the doctor’s note should cover you for any potential issues or accommodations resulting from any injury or illness.

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How To Get A Doctors Note

There are a couple of ways to acquire one of these documents. One of them is to visit your physician or urgent care in person and simply ask for one at the conclusion of the appointment. The doctor will more than likely supply one to you as part of your appointment and may ask if you need a note for work. Alternatively, you can use a telemedicine provider to get a doctor’s note online. To go this route, you’ll need to make an appointment with the provider, have an online consultation, and ask for the note. They are usually included as a courtesy at the conclusion of the appointment. It’s a fairly straightforward process and the note is considered a legal document.


As you can see, getting a doctor’s note legitimately is simple and hassle-free. Some folks may be worried about getting one quickly or about spending money for one. The note itself costs nothing at all – it’s usually a courtesy as part of the appointment. Using telemedicine is a much faster route to attain a note if you need one. Getting a note this way (an online doctor) is convenient and easy. We should also warn against forging one. It’s prudent to remember that forging a doctor’s note is, in fact, considered a crime. To be more specific, it’s a form of fraud. Providing a fraudulent note – something you may have to pay a fee for from another service, possibly costing more than just having an online consultation –  is completely unethical and inherently wrong. And that’s not even taking into consideration that if your employer finds out you forged the note, there could be disastrous consequences. But why go through all the trouble of doing something dishonest, when the legit way is so easy? Doctors notes are useful documents and you shouldn’t hesitate to get one should the need arise.

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