Called in Sick to Work? What can a Boss ask about your Medical Certificate?

Called in Sick to Work? What can a Boss ask about your Medical Certificate?

If you call your employer to say you need time off work due to illness, the employer may understandably want to know the reason. That’s particularly true if you take an extended period of time off work because this can be costly for a business.

The normal way of providing evidence of your unavailability is to supply a medical certificate that you obtain from your GP. This has to give a certain amount of information but, in some cases, your employer may want more. However, there are rules about the extent of detail that has to be provided.

What a Medical Certificate does and does not contain

A medical certificate is required to contain details of the employee and the doctor who provides it plus the date of the consultation and when the certificate was issued. As regards for being unfit for work, it only needs to state the time required off work for the health condition and when the doctor expects the patient to be fit to return to work. There is no requirement to go into the detail of the illness or injury itself because this is considered a confidential matter for the employee.

Although a medical certificate is an official document provided by a qualified doctor, your employer is not bound to accept it and may require more evidence of your unavailability for work. In particular, details may be sought about the nature of the illness or injury.

In essence, your employer is entitled to ask any questions that will help to decide if any reasonable adjustments need to be made to help you at work. These can include any adaptations made to the working environment or any flexibility that may be introduced into arrangements. However, the employer cannot access your medical records or obtain the disclosure of any information about your medical condition without your specific permission.

View our article on the top reasons to request sick leave.

Why you may want to provide more information

Your working arrangement with your employer will ideally be in the form of a partnership rather than being confrontational so it may be in your interest to provide information that’s requested. After all, your employer may terminate your employment if you are absent for long periods or your work is not up to standard due to ill health.

If you are willing to provide more details of your condition, your employer will be able to support you better and make allowances for any drops in performance. So it may be beneficial to be open about the severity of your condition. If you have any doubts, seek legal advice or speak to your trade union or HR department.

At Instant Consult, we can provide a medical certificate quickly and without the need to attend your doctor’s surgery. It’s a much more efficient process and we’ll ensure confidentiality and only divulge to your employer information that has to go on the medical certificate or where you give consent for additional details. We always work in your best interests.