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, or 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) are considered acceptable forms of evidence. 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.
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.
Further information about Australian law relating to sick leave and your rights as an employee can be found at www.fairwork.gov.au