What happens if an employee refuses to provide a medical certificate?

When can you request medical evidence from an employee who is off work due to illness or injury?

Under the Fair Work Act employers are entitled to request medical evidence that would satisfy a reasonable person that the sick leave is being taken because of an illness or injury that prevents them from being able to attend work. Medical evidence could be either a medical certificate from a medical practitioner or a statutory declaration.

You will also need to consider the relevant modern award or enterprise agreement terms about when employees are required to give you evidence and the type of evidence they are required to give you.

What if an employee refuses to give you medical evidence?

If an employee refuses to give you medical evidence of their illness or injury and it is reasonable for you to request such evidence, then the employee will not be entitled to paid sick leave for that absence, and may be subject to a warning for not complying with a reasonable and lawful direction by management.

When is it reasonable for you to request medical evidence?

Would it be reasonable for you to request medical evidence for one day off? Probably not, unless you suspect that the person was able to work on that day. For instance, if you had evidence that they were at the Gold Coast via their Facebook page.

It would be reasonable to request medical evidence where the employee has had more than 2 days off, where it is before or after a weekend or public holiday, or where the employee has a pattern of absences i.e. they take a day off every 6 weeks as soon as a personal leave day has accrued.

What if you don’t think that the medical certificate is authentic?

If you believe that the medical certificate is not authentic i.e. if the date has been changed, you are completely within your rights to call the medical practice and ask whether the medical certificate is genuine. I have had a scenario where the doctor himself changed the date and the medical certificate was legitimate.