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How To Get a Doctor’s Note for School or Work Online

Many workplaces and schools require doctor’s notes when you need to be off. While getting a doctor’s note as an adult can feel a little unsettling, they are sometimes required by your employer to keep your benefits and to protect your job while you are away.

From a legal perspective, your employer is permitted to ask why you are taking off work and to ask for a doctor’s note on your return, as long as you cite an illness as the reason you are away from work and you will be away for three or more consecutive days. Your employer’s policy must be applied equally to all employees.

If your employer requires that you have a doctor’s note before you can return to work, this may be an opportune time to see a doctor online and experience the benefits of telemedicine. Online appointments with a doctor make it simple and convenient to talk with a doctor and get clearance to return to work.

Why Are Doctor’s Notes Required?

A doctor’s note serves many purposes. It protects your coworkers if you have a contagious disease. Requiring a doctor’s note after three or more consecutive absences helps ensure everyone uses the sick policy at work fairly. And a doctor’s note may provide the documentation you need to keep your benefits and your job and to receive any accommodations you may need. However, this is not guaranteed, as many states are “at will” employment states.

What Absences Require a Doctor’s Note?

The requirements for a doctor’s note vary from employer to employer. In most cases, you may be required to get a doctor’s note if you are off for three consecutive days or more and have cited an illness as the reason you are off work.

Employers commonly require doctor’s notes if you are absent from work due to an infectious disease such as the SARS-CoV-2 virus. COVID-19 is a respiratory infection, which means it can spread throughout the workplace if you are infectious.

Here are two common scenarios that may require a doctor’s note:

  • An 11-year-old has missed more than 10% of the school year because of recurrent and severe upper respiratory infections. The school may require a doctor’s notes for its truancy records. While the child may have a chronic illness, such as cystic fibrosis, that is associated with having frequent infections, the school officials may not have this information and cannot without your permission.
  • Another situation may be that a salesperson must travel as part of their job. They are currently home with COVID-19. Getting on a plane with a respiratory infection puts others at risk. It would be prudent for the salesperson to do a Telehealth COVID Test for Travel and get a doctor’s note to be excused from travel.

What Information Does a Doctor’s Note Contain?

A doctor’s note must straddle the line between giving your employer enough information so they know you are cleared to return to work without overstepping the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) regulations. HIPAA and its requirements for doctor-patient confidentiality stipulate that your doctor cannot disclose your illness without your permission.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, your employer may ask for a doctor’s note when they need the information to approve sick leave, workers’ compensation, wellness programs, or health insurance. In order to follow HIPAA rules, your employer can’t talk to your doctor about your health without first getting your permission.

A standard doctor’s note will typically include the following:

  • Your name
  • Your date of birth
  • The date of your medical evaluation
  • How long the doctor recommends that you be off work
  • When you can return to work
  • What limitations do you have, if any, when you return
  • Your doctor’s name and signature

If you have a disability and limitations, it is a good idea to read up on your organization’s and state’s policies regarding your rights, so you know what to expect when you return to work.

Why Will a Doctor Issue a Note?

A doctor will issue a note if they have the necessary information to write one. A doctor will not write a doctor’s note if they have not done a full assessment. Many times, licensed doctors can do full assessments through telehealth. They can see you, talk with you, gather information about your symptoms, ask for weight, temperature, and blood pressure measurements, and make a diagnosis. In these cases, they would be comfortable writing a doctor’s note, clearing you to return to work.

How Does Getting a Doctor’s Note Online Work?

To get a doctor’s note online, you must get an online diagnosis first. For telehealth, this is usually very straightforward.

  1. Complete online medical history forms
  2. Make an online appointment
  3. Talk with the doctor by phone or video
  4. Get a medical diagnosis
  5. Get a doctor’s note sent to you or faxed to your workplace or school

Online Doctor’s Note Limitations

Sometimes telehealth settings cannot provide doctors with all the information they need to complete their assessment. For example, suppose you were off work for three days for severe abdominal pain. Even though your pain has lessened, if you still have pain, a telehealth doctor is probably not going to feel comfortable signing a doctor’s note without doing a physical exam.

Most online telehealth companies have a list of conditions they treat online.


While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.

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