How to get a doctor's certificate to skip work the day after a public holiday

Chucking a sickie? Here’s how to get a medical certificate. Photo: iStock.

The calendar played a cruel joke on the nation this year by putting Australia Day on a Thursday. This means the day after celebrating with barbecues and beach cricket, and maybe a few too many stubbies, people have to return to work for a day before the weekend begins.

Unsurprisingly, that means many people will be “chucking a sickie” instead of going to work, although it’s estimated around 30% of the workforce have already applied for a day off as part of their annual leave.

While we spoke to Australian bosses about what they thought for people slacking off — some employers have declared Friday a office holiday because they know turnout will be low anyway — we thought we’d find out how people could get a doctor’s certificate to legitimise their day off.

Business Insider has previously revealed it’s actually surprisingly easy to get an official get-out-of-work card from medical centres in the Sydney CBD — even if you admit you’re not really sick.

We visited three randomly selected medical clinics in Sydney, and (as a full-fee paying customer, err patient) asked for a doctor’s certificate while admitting to not being ill.

The reaction from each doctors varied, but they all supplied an official sick note.

We also spoke to the Australian Medical Association vice president Dr Tony Bartone this week to see whether he expected more people than usual to head to their GP this Friday, asking for a sick note, and whether it was a common occurrence following public holidays.

“Anecdotally we might be aware that we write more certificates on a Monday or the day after a public holiday because employers require one on those days,” he said.

“So yes, we do notice a trend but sometimes there is a valid reason for that.”

He added there are genuine explanations why people fall ill following public holidays.

“When you have a day of celebrations [where]… the prawns have been left out too long, and pool hygiene [is lax] or you have over indulged on refreshments, it’s not surprising that people are unwell the next day.”

He said providing medical certificate comes down to trust and symptoms, and that there’s an ethical responsibility to write them “based on merit”.

“We have obligations under our code of practice — both ethically and from a legal point of view. A medical certificate is a legal document and we take the onus seriously.”

So if you’re thinking of trying your luck, Dr Bartone said GPs can’t backdate certificates and only issue one on the date they have seen the patient.

In the “many-odd years” he has been a doctor, he says there has only been one or two occasions “where I have failed to provide a certificate because of that situation”.

However, doctors are not the only source of medical certificate these days.

You can also get them from a pharmacist.

According to the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, since 2009 pharmacists can also provide certificates issued for absences from work.

“Pharmacists are able to issue certificates for personal leave (sick leave) as the Act provides a more flexible definition as it simply states ‘evidence that would satisfy a reasonable person’ as all that is required as evidence from an employee when making claim for personal or carer’s leave,” says the Guild.

But don’t think that means you escape an examination, or that it will be free.

Pharmacists are still entitled to charge a fee for their consultation, based on the approximate time of the process, and the provision of the certificate for absence from work.

Happy Australia Day. See you bright and refreshed on Friday.

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