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Home > Medical and Carer Certificates > What are my rights as an employee with regard to sick leave and carer's leave?
What are my rights as an employee with regard to sick leave and carer's leave?
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An employee must inform their employer if intending to take sick leave or carer’s leave. This has to be done as soon as possible, but can be after the leave has started. It should be specified how long the absence from work will be, or is expected to be. 

 

An employer can ask an employee to give evidence that confirms they took leave because they were unable  to work because of an illness or injury (this can include stress and pregnancy related illnesses), or if they are needed to care for an immediate family or household member who was experiencing illness, injury, or unexpected emergency.

 

Employers are entitled to ask employees for evidence for as little as 1 day or less off work.

 

An employee who does not provide their employer with evidence when asked may not be entitled to be paid for sick leave or carer’s leave.

 

An award or registered agreement can specify the circumstances in which an employee must give evidence to their employer and what type of evidence is required. The type of evidence requested must be reasonable in the circumstances.

 

Medical certificates and statutory declarations (stat decs) may be considered acceptable forms of evidence, though in practice most employees prefer to get a certificate from a doctor to confirm their leave was medically necessary.  Although there are no strict rules on what type of evidence should be provided by an employee, the evidence has to convince a reasonable person that the employee was genuinely entitled to the leave.

 

For more information on employee rights and responsibilities regarding sick leave and carer's leave, go to the Fairwork Ombudsman website.

What about medical appointments and planned surgery?

Medical appointments and elective surgeries that are pre-arranged can only be covered by sick leave if an employee is unable to work because of an illness or injury. It will depend on each individual circumstance. An employer can ask for evidence from an employee to confirm that they were unfit for work. This can help decide whether an employee should be paid sick leave or a different type of leave/entitlement.

Employers attending medical appointments -

It is not considered reasonable for an employer to attend a medical appointment with an employee, unless the employee requests it. It is also not considered reasonable for an employer to contact the employee’s doctor to obtain information. In some situations, for example if a return to work plan is being created, an employee may give consent for their employer to request information from the doctor to assist with planning a safe and successful recovery and return to the workplace. However, a doctor should not release confidential medical information without the clear consent of the patient.

 

Further information about Australian law relating to sick leave and your rights as an employee can be found at www.fairwork.gov.au 

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