Dear David: Asking References about Sick Time?

Can we ask references about an applicant’s previous use of sick time? We’d like to get a sense of their reliability.

Making any inquiries into their history of calling in sick is not recommended. Asking about absences due to illness or injury could run afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act and give you information about an employee’s inclusion in a protected class you’d be better off not having before hire.

Additionally, if you’re in a state that requires you to provide sick leave, making adverse employment decisions based on use of protected sick leave use (including deciding not to hire someone) could expose you to liability.

However, when calling references, it is permissible to ask generally about attendance and tardiness to get a feel for the candidate’s reliability.

Source – Mineral


David Katz

Vice President
VMA Insurance Services
To send your questions, write to

VMA Sponsors:

VMA Partners:

Learn how we support your business