Industrial Relations Advisory – Medical Certificates


What does a doctor’s certificate entitle an employee to?


A doctor’s certificate, by itself, entitles an employee to nothing at all.

A doctor does not have the legal authority to decree that an employer grant paid absence to an employee.

All a doctor can do is to recommend that an employer   allow an employee to be absent due to illness for a specific period of time. It is the employer that grants the leave and pays the employee, not the Doctor.

The Minimum Wages Ordinance does, by law, provide that certain categories of employees (Shop Assistants, Household Assistants, Catering Industry employees, etc) must be granted fourteen days paid sick leave in every twelve months, provided that they produce a certificate from a doctor for any absence of more than two days. The doctor’s certificate is supporting documentation, not directive documentation.

This is the standard period accepted as normal in the country and is within the recommended guidelines of good industrial relations practice.

Other categories of employees are usually covered by the organisation’s Human Resources policy which has provision for payment during genuine illness of employees, or by collective agreement, in the case of the minority of the work force that has union representation. Collective agreements always include what is colloquially called a sick leave clause. (There is, actually no such thing as ‘sick leave’…what we are really referring to is ‘payment during illness’.) These vary from the most common two weeks per annum as in the Minimum Wages Order to three weeks, to, in one case, as much as four weeks…all with the qualifying demand of a doctor’s certificate recommending the specific period, or, in some cases, a doctor’s certificate and the possibility of a referral by a company doctor as well.

If there are any queries, or, if you want advice on a special topic just e-mail PMSL at mail@pmsl.org and we will do our best to assist you.

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