What's a Medical Certificate for Sick Leave? (With Examples)

Updated 23 May 2023

As an employee, you may require time off work to recover from an injury or avoid spreading a potentially infectious illness. In the case of such circumstances, you may require a medical certificate to gain sick leave from your place of employment. Learning what a medical certificate is and how to obtain one can help you understand the process for taking time off work and accessing your sick leave entitlements. In this article, we discuss what a medical certificate for sick leave is, describe what information it contains, share how to know if you're eligible to get one and provide examples.

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What is sick leave?

When you're injured or sick and unable to work for a certain period, you can apply for sick leave. This means your workplace continues to pay your wage for the duration it takes for you to recover. You can apply for sick leave directly from your employer, but this usually requires the support of a medical professional.

The typical maximum amount of paid sick leave a full-time or permanent employee can apply for per year is 10 days, so it's a good idea to think carefully about whether you want to take the time off. Sick leave usually carries over to the next year, so if you don't use all of your leave in a year, it adds onto the sick leave you gain in the following year.

Related: How to Call in Sick: A Step-by-Step Guide

What is a medical certificate for sick leave?

A medical certificate for sick leave is a professional document written by a medical professional that supports your application for paid time away from work due to injury or illness. You can apply for sick leave without a medical certificate, but most employers require one as proof of your inability to work before agreeing to pay during your time off.

A medical certificate is typically a single page that lists the applicant's name and employee number if applicable, the address where the medical examination took place, the name of the examiner or medical officer and their signature of confirmation that the applicant requires a specified amount of time away from work to recover. It may be mass-produced or personalised for the applicant, but all this information appears in some form.

Related: Your Guide to the Types of Employee Benefits

What information does a medical certificate require?

They may take many forms, but medical certificates supporting a request for sick leave typically include the same information. First, the title medical certificate for sick leave appears in a large, bold font at the top of the document. This lets an employer know immediately what the document is regarding. Below the title is the address of the medical clinic where the examination of the applicant took place. This is so the employer can reference it and make certain it exists if they want to.

The following paragraph is a one or two sentence passage that certifies that the applicant has sustained significant enough injuries or is suffering from a severe enough illness that they require a specified number of days away from work to recover. The titles, full names, signatures and contact details of the medical professionals who oversaw the examination appear at the bottom of the document. An employee gives this document to their employer to support their application for sick leave.

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Do you need a medical certificate?

Different employers may have different policies regarding the process for taking sick leave. For example, some may not ask for a medical certificate if you only take one day off work, but this depends on the organisation. Generally, there's no minimum amount of time you may take off that employers won't ask for a medical certificate. An employer can ask for evidence in support of leave at any stage. If the employee can't provide it, the employer may refuse to pay out their sick leave entitlements.

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What if you can't get a medical certificate?

If you find yourself injured or sick over the weekend and can't get an appointment with a doctor as a result, you may take leave and then provide a statutory declaration. This is a formal document listing your contact details, the date and your submission for why you're unable to attend work. It's still an application for leave, but unlike a signature and supporting statement from a medical professional, it's a personal declaration of honesty. You finish the document with a professional statement, such as I do solemnly swear that what I've stated in this document is the truth.

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Eligibility for sick leave

Before you seek a medical certificate, it's a good idea to understand your workplace's policy for taking time off due to injury or illness. Typically, upon commencing employment, your employer provides you with access to the policy for taking leave. Make sure you read through this carefully so you understand your rights.

One important factor to note is that only part-time and full-time permanent employees are eligible for sick leave. Casual employees aren't eligible for sick leave in most cases. This is because a casual employee's hourly rate of pay is significantly higher than that of other employees. Because they aren't eligible for sick leave, they usually aren't required to submit any formal documentation when they do take time off for injury or illness.

Related: What You Need to Know About Full-Time Working Hours

Examples of a medical certificate for sick leave

Medical certificates can take various forms. Typically, the most common two are a personalised document written specifically for the applicant or a pre-written form with blank spaces for the applicant to fill in and the medical professional to sign. Here are examples of the two different forms you might encounter:

Personalised medical certificate

Here's an example of a personalised medical certificate:

Medical Certificate for Sick Leave

Suite 12, 289 Greendale Ave, Mainside, Adelaide, 5000

To whom it may concern,

This document is to certify that Martin Miller, employee number 443 at Enmore Consultants, has been examined by Doctor Amanda Ripley and Doctor Kelly Richmond, who have concluded that Martin Miller has contracted whooping cough. As a result of this examination, Doctor Amanda Ripley recommends that Martin Miller be absent from his place of employment at Enmore Consults for a minimum of eight days to fully recover.

Dr Kelly Richmond

Dr Amanda Ripley

Related: What Is Your Contract of Employment? (Your Ultimate Guide)

Medical certificate with blank spaces

Here's a pre-written medical certificate that applicants can complete:

Medical Certificate for Sick Leave

22 June 2022

To whom it may concern,

This letter is to certify that [Name] at [Address of patient] was examined and treated at the clinic or health office at [Address of clinic] on [date of examination] with a diagnosis of [diagnosis] and requires [number of days] to recover.

Signed: Amanda Ripley

Date: 22 June 2022

Related: Good Excuses to Get Out of Work

Application for sick leave

Along with a medical certificate, most employers require a notice of intent to apply. In most cases, you hand a letter applying for sick leave to the human resources department. This alerts the company that you're intending to apply for sick leave, which gives them time to coordinate the reallocation of your workload or find another employee to cover your shifts. Employers require employees to inform them as soon as possible about how long they're going to be taking off work. After the employee makes the request for time off, the employer may then ask for a medical certificate.

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