According to a recent NZ survey 70% of employers are not satisfied with the medical certificates they receive from employees taking sick leave. Specifically employers are concerned that: doctors are issuing medical certificates without medical cause; doctors are issuing medical certificates retrospectively, without having seen evidence of illness; and that doctors are issuing medical certificates with a lack of specific information, especially when the employee alleges the illness or injury arose from workplace activity.

However, changes to the way medical certificates are being issued are presently being considered. Details of the proposed changes to medical certificates have been disclosed in a recent New Zealand Medical Council Report called Writing Medical Certificates: a review of the standards for doctors (May 2013).

If the proposals outlined in the report are adopted the results would be that employers would be better informed about the nature of an employee’s illness, and will be advised of tasks that an employee may be able to perform during the illness/injury period.

The report also proposes that an employer should be able to seek clarification of an employee’s health status from the employee’s doctor.

Many employers are eagerly awaiting details about whether the proposals in the report are to be adopted or not. Watch this space!

If you have any employment or HR queries that you would like assistance with, please contact us.

This article is intended as a point of reference and should not be relied on as a substitute for professional advice. Specialist advice should always be sought in relation to any particular circumstances and no liability will be accepted for any losses incurred by those relying solely on this article.

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