Please note that this pertains to South African Labour Relations and Best Practice requirements.
Let’s bring out the protagonists.
Mike owns a factory and George is one of his workers – George calls in sick on a regular basis and when he comes back to work, he does bring a doctors certificate with him.
When George has taken sick leave for the 50th day in the same year, Mike starts getting suspicious because George never ‘looks’ sick when he is at work. Mike starts his investigation by looking at the doctor’s certificates that have been given to him.
In terms of the BCEA (Basic Conditions of Employment Act) a doctor’s certificate must be signed and issued by a ‘registered Medical Practitioner’. This means that it has to be someone who is ‘certified’ to diagnose and treat patients and who is ‘registered’ with a professional council that has been established by an Act of Parliament.
Here is the other information that must be on the medical certificate.
• The name, address, qualification and practice or registration number of the practioner (please note that Mike is entitled to check that this information is correct).
• The name of the employee.
• The date and time that the employee was examined.
• If the doctor actually saw the employee and diagnosed the illness at the time of examination, this should be stipulated on the certificate. If the doctor did not examine the employee, but has issued the certificate based on what the employee has told them, this should also be stipulated on the certificate.
• A description of the illness. It must be noted here however that if the employee is not prepared to give consent for the illness to be stipulated on the certificate, then the Medical Practioner is entitled to document something along the lines of “my opinion, based on my examination of George Dladla is that he is unfit to work.”
• The Medical Practitioner should also state whether the employee is totally ‘unfit to work’ or if the employee is ‘able to perform less strenuous duties’ in their working environment.
• The exact period that the patient has been booked off for (this should indicate exactly which date the employee must return to work – so, not George is booked off sick for a week, but rather George ‘will return to work on Monday 20th July 2009.)
• The date that the Medical Practioner has issued the Medical Certificate.
• The Medical Certificate must be signed by the Registered Medical Practioner.
In this particular instance, the Certificates that George was bringing to Mike were correct and Mike now has to decide whether he wants to dismiss George due to ill health. How Mike deals with this situation is another story for another day.