If you’ve ever taken a day of work or school because you were ill you may have been asked to provide a sick certificate from a professional after hours GP to explain your absence and reassure your workplace or your educational institution that you’re fit to work.
Whilst it’s not usually an unreasonable request and most people will have to get one at one time or another, it can be kind of annoying to wait at the doctors of office when you’re already feeling unwell.
If you want to understand more about what exactly is required of you when it comes to sick certificates then read on below.
Understanding leave entitlements in Australia
Every employee in Australia is covered under something called the National Employment standards (NES) which protect the right of all full time employees (except casuals) to take personal leave, this includes medical leave and carers leave.
Your leave entitlements begin to accrue from the day you begin work at you job and you are entitled to a minimum of 10 days of paid personal leave annually.
Some workplaces will have their own workplace agreements so leave arrangements might differ at your workplace.
If you need to take personal leave you are only required to give notice as soon as practicable.
On your return your workplace might request a medical note to explain the absence.
The rules regarding sick certificates
Your employer can request a sick certificate for any period of time off, even if it was just one day of personal leave.
Generally, most employers won’t put this into practice for every work absence especially if it’s only 1-2 days off. Many will have their own internal policies and might choose only to request them for longer absences (3 or more days) or to only request them in the cases of chronic illnesses or patterns of continued absences.
The time involved for both employees and employers to chase up sick certificates for minor absences is rarely worth it.
What if you’re a student?
Your child’s school or your university institution are two other places where you might come across requests for sick certificates.
If your child has been home ill from school some schools will enforce a requirement for sick certificates to be produced to explain the the reason for absence and that your child is not contagious and fit to return to the school environment.
Whilst there is no legislation that requires parents to produce sick certificates most school’s will have their own policies in place that parents will agree to when enrolling their children.
School’s often make the request in an effort to combat absenteeism, ensure that illness doesn’t spread and to ensure a level playing field in the case of missed exams or assignments.
Universities won’t usually mind if you miss the odd class during the usual semester because of illness, but most will usually have policies in place regarding missed exams or assignments, this is because they must ensure fairness and want to avoid extending extensions of exam do-overs to students without a genuine reason.
Where should I get one?
You can usually get a medical note from a doctor after a quick appointment; in Australia it is now also possible to pick them up from the pharmacy or from a 24 hour online doctor’s service which makes it much quicker and easier.
Many areas of Australia now also have services for doctors that will visit your home, this can be a good option for those that are too ill to sit at the doctor’s office or who don’t have time to make it down to the local pharmacy.