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According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, an employee has to let their employer know that they are going to take sick or carer’s leave. This has to be done as soon as possible, and can be after the leave has started. They should also specify how long they will be off or expect to be off work.

An employer can ask an employee to give evidence that shows the employee took the leave because they:

  • couldn’t work because of an illness or injury, or
  • needed to provide care or support to an immediate family or household member (because of an illness, injury, or unexpected emergency affecting the member).

Employers can ask employees to provide evidence for as little as 1 day or less off work.

An employee who doesn't give their employer evidence when asked may not be entitled to be paid for their sick or carer’s leave.

All Your Questions Answered

Do I need a Medical certificate when I am sick from work?

There are several different ways to authenticate evidence for absence from employment. Strictly speaking a “Medical Certificate” is a certificate signed by a person who is licensed or registered as a medical practitioner (eg. GP). The Fair Work Act of 2009 s107(3) requires that an employee give notice of taking leave to their employer. This must give evidence that would satisfy a reasonable person. Other examples of such evidence are Pharmacist’s certificates or statutory declarations.

What about carer’s leave for looking after a sick child or family member.

Carer’s Leave certificates are much the same as Personal Leave for the evidence required. It is important that you can validate the identity of the person you are caring for.

What can my sick certificate from a Pharmacist certify?

A sick certificate from a Pharmacist can provide notice to an Employer for absence from work for up to two days for either Carer’s or Personal leave. This capability has been provided to Pharmacists in the Fair Work Act of 2009 and applied to all “federal system” employees.

The condition must be determinable under the Pharmacists scope of practice, acting within their competency and professional expertise. They cannot provide certificates for pregnancy-related requests or for compassionate leave.

If you require a certificate for purposes other than workplace employment, a medical certificate from a medical practitioner or statutory declaration could be requested.

How do I get a certificate?

Certificates can be obtained through consultation from a Doctor or Pharmacist, and you can use our online service Click if Sick from home.

Do you have to provide a Doctor’s medical certificate for one day off?

According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, Employers can ask employees to provide evidence for as little as one day or less off work. This can take the form of a medical certificate or a sick certificate.

Does my employer have to accept a certificate from a Pharmacist?

An employer cannot reject a certificate based on the Healthcare Professional that provided their certificate, unless specified in an Enterprise Agreement or modern award. Pharmacists can provide absence from employment certificates for all the following Employees in Australia:

  • working for a proprietary company (usually has a Pty. Ltd. In the company name);
  • is paid by a proprietary company;
  • is employed in NT, ACT or Vic (includes sole traders, partnerships, trusts, etc.); or
  • is employed in SA, NSW, Queensland or Tasmania after 1 January 2011.

Does a sick or medical certificate have to state why I am sick?

No, the reason that you are sick can remain confidential. It may be relating to a condition that you are particularly sensitive about or fear prejudice if your employer were to learn of. A certificate must offer the date of issue, date/s of leave and the person who is taking leave’s full name and address. It must also identify who is providing the certificate.

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