In Australia, a medical certificate is necessary in various situations. However, the most common instance where you will need it is when you’re applying for personal leave. Medical certificates are often used to support different types of leave entitlements like a carer’s leave or sick leave, especially for longer absences. Note that each situation can vary based on the specific policies of an employer, the nature of the employment, and the relevant provisions of Australian employment laws.

What the Law Says About Medical Certificates for Work

When a medical certificate is required for work depends on the provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 and your workplace’s individual leave policy. To determine when you should submit a doctor’s certificate, here’s an overview of these laws and what they say:

Fair Work Act 2009

This Act governs various aspects of labour and employment in Australia, including medical certificate requirements. It is enforced by the Fair Work Commission and includes statutes like the National Employment Standards, which grants full-time and part-time employees paid personal leave entitlements if they can’t work due to a medical condition.

Under this act:

  • Employers can request evidence to substantiate the reason for leave. The evidence must be such that would satisfy a reasonable person. Common forms of evidence include a medical certificate or a statutory declaration. The Act doesn’t specify a timeframe for when this evidence must be provided, but it should be as soon as practicable.
  • Employees are required to inform their employer as soon as possible that they are taking personal/carer’s leave, including the expected duration of sick days.
  • If an employee fails to provide requested evidence, they may be subject to disciplinary action, but this must be in line with the Fair Work Act and the employer’s policies.

State and Workplace Policies

Some states and territories may have additional laws requiring medical certificates, especially for crown employees. Individual workplaces may also have their own policies regarding medical certificates. These policies can be more but not less stringent than the minimum requirements of the Fair Work Act.

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a woman feeling sick and need to work from home

When Employers Can Demand a Medical Certificate

In general, employers may request a medical certificate or other forms of evidence in the following situations:

  • Sick Leave: If an employee is absent due to personal illness or injury, the employer can ask for a sick leave certificate as evidence.
  • Extended Absence: For longer periods of sick leave, especially beyond a couple of days, employers commonly require a medical certificate.
  • Pattern of Absences: If there’s a pattern of regular or frequent absences, such as taking sick leave before or after weekends or public holidays, employers might ask for a medical certificate.
  • Carer’s Leave: A carer certificate is typically required when an employee takes leave to care for an immediate family member or household member who requires care due to sickness, injury, or incapacity.
  • Suspicion of Non-genuine Illness: If there are reasonable grounds to suspect the leave isn’t for genuine reasons, an employer may ask for a medical certificate.

Keep in mind that these can vary depending on your workplace policies. Some workplaces have specific policies that outline when a medical certificate is required. For further information, refer to your contract or coordinate with your HR department.

Do You Need a Medical Certificate for Taking One Day Off Work?

It depends on your employer and the specific circumstances. The Fair Work Act 2009 allows employers to request any type of evidence that would convince a reasonable person that the leave is legitimate. However, it doesn’t specifically mandate a medical certificate for a single day of absence.

Because of this, the discretion on when to ask for a medical certificate is left to individual employers. Some employers may require a medical certificate for any sick leave, regardless of the duration. Others might only require one for longer absences.

Keep in mind, however, that if an employer asks for a medical certificate for one day off, this request should be reasonable. For example, during periods of high absenteeism or known flu outbreaks, employers might be more inclined to ask for a certificate.

Also, if there’s a pattern of taking single days off, especially around weekends or public holidays, employers might ask for a medical certificate, even if it’s only for a day.

It’s always a good idea to check your workplace’s leave policy and communicate with your employer about their requirements.

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  • Sign up for an Account: Download the Instant Consult app and sign up for an account.
  • Request a Consult: Click on the “Request a Consult” button on the home screen and follow the prompts. A doctor will connect with you in under 15 minutes.
  • Hop on a Video Consultation: Chat with our doctor and tell them about your symptoms, medical history, and any other information they need to assess your condition.
  • Receive Your Certificate: If everything is in order, your medical certificate will be sent straight to your Instant Consult inbox right after the consultation. You can print it or email it to your employer or any relevant parties.

Are Online Medical Certificates Valid?

Yes, online medical certificates are valid all over Australia as long as they’re from a legitimate provider. And since our team of medical practitioners are AHPRA-accredited, they are as qualified as any doctor you visit for physical consultations. That means any certificate they issue is as valid as any you would get in an in-person visit. Book a consultation and secure the medical certificate you need today!

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