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Medical Certificates

Published October 9, 2023 (last updated on February 28, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Content Writer


Medical certificates are a common requirement for employers in Australia. They can be used to verify an employee’s illness or injury and to ensure that the employee is fit to work. Medical certificates can also be used to support an employee’s application for paid sick leave or carer’s leave. 

Why are medical certificates important? 

Medical certificates are an important tool for both employers and employees. Employers can use medical certificates to verify an employee’s illness or injury and to make informed decisions about the employee’s absence and potential return to work.  If the employee is suffering from a long-term illness, the employer may request that the employee undergoes a full medical review.

On the other hand, employees can use medical certificates to protect their rights and entitlements in the workplace. 

When can an employer request a medical certificate? 

An employer can request a medical certificate for any absence longer from work due to illness or injury. However, employers are normally only legally entitled to request a medical certificate for absences of more than three days. 

Here are some examples of when an employer may request a medical certificate:

  • The employee has been absent from work for more than two weeks in a 12-month period.

  • The employee has a pattern of absenteeism.

  • The employee is on sick leave for a serious illness or injury.

  • The employee is on sick leave and the employer needs to know when they will be able to return to work.

  • The employee’s absence is causing significant disruption to the workplace. 

For employers there are some important things to keep in mind:

  • Employers must accept medical certificates at face value and should not contact the employee’s doctor except to clarify points.

  • Employers cannot refuse to pay an employee for sick leave if they have a medical certificate, even if the certificate does not state the reason for the employee’s illness.

What information should a medical certificate contain? 

A medical certificate must contain the following information: 

  • The employee’s name and date of birth 

  • The date the certificate was issued 

  • The name of the medical professional who issued the certificate 

  • The medical professional’s signature 

  • A statement that the employee is unfit to work due to illness or injury 

  • The dates for which the employee is unfit to work 

Employers should not expect to see a diagnosis on the medical certificate. This is because the employee has a right to confidentiality. However, if the employee consents, the medical professional can provide more information about the employee’s illness or injury to the employer. 

Are online medical certificates legal in Australia? 

Yes, online medical certificates are legal in Australia. However, employers are not required to accept online medical certificates, and they may request that the employee see a doctor in person to obtain a medical certificate. Online medical certificate services are becoming increasingly popular in Australia, as they offer a convenient and affordable way for employees to obtain medical certificates. 

What are the benefits of using an online medical certificate service? 

There are several benefits for employees who use an online medical certificate service, including: 

  • Convenience: Online medical certificate services can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

  • Speed: Online medical certificates are typically issued within minutes of completing the online consultation. 

  • Affordability: Online medical certificate services are generally more affordable than seeing a doctor in person to obtain a medical certificate. 

How do employees use an online medical certificate service? 

To use an online medical certificate service, the employee simply needs to visit the website of the service and complete an online consultation. The consultation will typically involve answering a few questions about the illness or injury.  Once the consultation is complete, the medical professional will review the information and issue a medical certificate if they believe the employee is unfit to work. 

If an employer is unwilling to accept an online medical certificate, they can request a telehealth medical certificate instead. Telehealth medical certificates are medical certificates that are issued by a medical professional over the phone or video call. Telehealth medical certificates are just as valid as medical certificates that are issued in person and must be accepted by Australian employers.  

What are carer certificates?  

Carer certificates are like medical certificates, but they are used to support an employee’s application for carer’s leave. Carer’s leave is a type of paid leave that employees can take to care for a sick or injured immediate family member.

 According to the definition in the Fair Work Act 2009, an employee’s immediate family members include the employee’s: 

  • Spouse or former spouse

  • De facto partner or former de facto partner 

  • Child

  • Parent 

  • Grandparent 

  • Grandchild 

  • Sibling 

How do employees get a carer’s certificate?

To obtain a carer certificate, the employee will need to see the unwell or injured family member’s medical professional and ask for a certificate stating that they need to take carer’s leave. The medical professional will typically ask the employee to provide information about the family member they are caring for and the reason for the care. 

How can Employsure help?

Employsure can help small business owners with information on managing staff absenteeism, leave entitlements, and sick leave. For peace of mind, please call our FREE Advice Line now on 1300 651 415.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can an employer ask for a medical certificate for one sick day?

Employers can ask employees to provide evidence for as little as 1 day or less off work. It can help to check your contract or the award, so you know what your rights and responsibilities are. 

What happens if an employee can’t provide a medical certificate?

Medical certificates or statutory declarations are examples of acceptable forms of evidence. While there are no strict rules on what type of evidence needs to be given, the evidence has to convince a reasonable person that the employee was genuinely entitled to the sick or carer’s leave. 

How can you get a medical certificate?

 You can get a medical certificate online or using a telehealth appointment. 

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