Home and Improvement

What Employees Should Know About Submitting a Sick Certificate

Every employee before long will experience an injury or suffer from illness, a scenario that will force a leave of absence from work. Even following every precaution to live a fit and healthy lifestyle, from taking vitamins to visiting the gym and undergoing regular flu vaccinations, life can get in the way where mistakes or mishaps will simply happen without any prior warning.


Enter the sick certificate – a medical document that explains to an employer that an employee has not unable to attend work on account of an ailment.


Under Australian workplace rules and regulations, there are inherent responsibilities and conditions placed on all parties from a legal standpoint. There are protections in place that helps all parties manage their way through a process, yet an employee must be aware of certain points that will be relevant to submitting a sick certificate should they find themselves in that situation.


Let us examine these points with a further discussion.

Be Date Specific


An employee under no circumstances can backdate a sick certificate with the intention of falsifying the medical documentation. Once discovered and made evident to the employer, that can be grounds for punishment or dismissal. This can be done should the employer and doctor be aware of the nature of the injury or illness where an official filing is required following a leave of absence. Yet this needs to specify exactly at what dates the absence occurred.

Details Right To Be Confidential Under Most Circumstances


A sick certificate under most circumstances does not necessarily have to stipulate the details of the injury or illness written on the documentation. Discretion and privacy is the right of the patient/employee, however there will be questions raised should the leave of absence last beyond a couple of days as the employer seeks to clarify what ailment could force such an extension. When these requests are made, it is strongly advised that the employee disclose the manner of the ailment to ensure that they are not falsifying any details.

Notice Given


The aspect of notice is just as important as the physical sick certificate is itself when considering the employer-employee relationship. As soon as it becomes apparent that you require a leave of absence, make that known to the organisation. A lack of notice can provide the employer with a loophole when it comes to payments and sick leave entitlements.


Cannot Enforce a Doctor Create One On Demand


The reality is that a doctor does not have to provide a sick certificate just because you requested one. They have to identify clear medical cause to issue one, because there will be strong penalties imposed on doctors who do not undertake their due diligence to liberally hand out falsified documentation.

Limits Placed On Certain Types of Doctors


A sick certificate is usually sourced from a general practitioner (GP), yet there are some specialists who are empowered to provide one should they be the professional looking after your ailment. From a chiropractor to a dentist, these are individuals that are tasked with handling your situation as best as possible before making you fit and available to return back to work.


A grey area emerges with a pharmacist, a profession that is guided by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia. There are limitations in this realm where the only provisions that are allowed in these cases are around the type of medicine administered.


As with any of these situations, it is best to open a dialogue with your employer to ensure that any medical documentation qualifies under their terms and conditions of employment.



Speak openly and transparently with your employer when providing a sick certificate for any leave of absence that ranges beyond 24-48 hours. Keeping them up to speed on your circumstances is the best possible means of avoiding any legal or employment trouble as per your contract.


Employers understand that everyone suffers a health ailment from time to time and should you seek out a sick certificate, ensure that your doctor provides clear rationale as to why you require a leave of absence.