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Your Questions Answered: Extended personal leave – Can we force an employee to attend a medical examination?

By Charles Power on November 10th, 2017

 

Q
One of our workers has taken 30 days of personal leave over the last nine months – and has provided a medical certificate for all of these instances except one.

Do we have the right to send him to another doctor for an independent medical examination, due to the large amount of time off?

 

A
You can request that your employee attends an independent medical examination to assess his capacity and what adjustments you can make to allow him to better perform his role. But you should cover any cost associated with this examination.

Your employee has an obligation to obey all lawful and reasonable requests made by you, so once you’ve made the request your employee should respond within a reasonable timeframe.

A request may be lawful and reasonable where an employer has a genuine concern about an employee’s workplace health and safety, this seems likely to be met in your case given the extensive amount of time he has taken off work.

As such, your genuine health and safety concern is that as his employer, you need to know what, if any, adjustments need to be made to the workplace or the working conditions of the employee in order to ensure their health and safety – or that of their workmates – is not placed in jeopardy.

One more thing

Employers are entitled to require a medical certificate signed by a registered health practitioner certifying that an employee is or will be unfit for work, or a statutory declaration to that effect, from any worker asking for personal leave.

If you believe a medical certificate to be dubious, you will need compelling evidence to challenge it.

You may wish to seek clarification from the doctor who signed it or, in this case, ask that the employee see a doctor of your choosing if you are concerned that they cannot perform the inherent requirements of their role.

But this can be grey area – your concern should be legitimate, and you should fully brief any independent medical practitioner, as well as the employee, of the job requirements which you are concerned the employee is unable to meet.

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