Medical certificates: It’s time for a change - Public Service Association

Medical certificates: It’s time for a change

Over the last few weeks, medical practitioners have called for the practice of employers requiring medical certificates when workers have called in sick to cease, as they struggle to deal with increasing rates of illness and overwork.

In principle, the PSA agrees with this:

  • In the current cost of living crisis, it can be prohibitively expensive to attend a GP
  • Many PSA members are shift workers, and GPs generally only work business hours
  • Regional workers have far less access to health services
  • People with carers’ responsibilities shouldn’t have to drag a young child or an infirm parent to the doctor just to satisfy their workplace

These all ignore the fact that sick leave is a hard-earned working condition that members are entitled to. Bosses should be encouraging a culture of trust within the workplace, and if a worker says they are sick, they should be believed – not required to jump through hoops to take an entitled day off.

Efforts in the past by the PSA to have alternative sources of proof accepted, such as pharmacies providing certificates have been ignored. The Government has failed to engage seriously with these proposals, with members in many areas reporting these certificates are rejected by their employer.

The PSA is calling for the Government to take a commonsense approach and rethink the current need for medical certificates for short term illnesses.

Additionally, the NSW Government should be reviewing the process of requiring medical practitioners to provide reasons on certificates. Practitioners have rightly pointed out that this practice is inconsistent with their requirements to protect the privacy of their patients and in many cases, just creates further friction and mistrust between workers and employers.

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