Employer successfully questions an employee’s medical certificate
In this case a Crown Casino employee who was a football fanatic had booked flights to watch the last game of Essendon coach Kevin Sheedy and player James Hird, in Perth. The employee obtained a medical certificate for the day on which the game was held.
Crown Casino became aware that the employee was planning to take sick leave to attend the game in Perth. Crown Casino advised the employee against taking the sick leave and that he should pursue other options such as taking annual leave or swapping his shifts. In addition, the Casino told the employee that it considered the misuse of sick leave as serious misconduct which could lead to the employee’s termination. The employee maintained that he was extremely stressed because of Kevin Sheedy’s impending retirement and that was the basis of the sick leave. Despite the warnings of the Casino, the employee attended the game and sought paid sick leave on that day.
On the employee’s return to work the Casino suspended the employee for three days. At a subsequent meeting the Casino terminated the employee’s employment.
The employee brought a claim that the termination of his employment was for a prohibited reason. The prohibited reason was his temporary absence due to illness.
The Court found that it was only in the most unusual circumstances that an employer would be able to not accept the validity of a medical certificate. The Court held that there were exceptional circumstances in this case and that the Casino was able to legitimately question the validity of the medical certificate. The Court denied the employee’s claim that the termination of his employment was for a prohibited reason.
HR Tip : In most cases an employer must accept the validity of an employee’s medical certificate. However there may be some capacity to question the validity of a medical certificate where the employee is known to not be legitimately sick.