In order for sick leave to be granted on the back of a medical certificate, the medical certificate is to accord to Section 15(1) of the Ethical and Professional Rules of the Medical and Dental Professions Board of the Health Professions Council of South Africa.  In this regard, for there to be a valid certificate it must contain the following:

  1. The name, address and qualifications of the practitioner;
  2. The name of the patient;
  3. The employment number of the employee (if required);
  4. The date and time of the examination;
  5. An explanation by the medical practitioner stating whether the medical certificate is issued under the opinion of the medical practitioner’s personal or professional obligations deduced from an examination or if the patient provided them with information that is based on adequate medical grounds;
  6. A description of the illness, disorder or disease is to be provided in a manner understandable by those not in the medical professions.  Instances where the patient does not wish for their ailment to be stated, the medical practitioner or dentist is to simply specify that it is their opinion, after conducting examination, that the patient or employee is not fit to work;
  7. The patient or employee is completely unable to perform their duties or that such employee may remain within the work place as they are still able to perform less vigorous duties;
  8. The exact time frame of the recommended sick leave;
  9. The date on which the medical certificate of illness was issue; and
  10. The full details of the medical practitioner together with his signature.

When it comes to medical certificates obtained at Clinics, there is a tendency of these certificates not being signed by a registered practitioner.  However, it must be understood that all clinics as well as hospitals consist of a team of qualified medical practitioners or staff.  A person claiming to be ill and subsequently attending a Clinic or Hospital, has to be examined by such qualified practitioner and obtain an adequate medical certificate for employment purposes. 

Examinations that have been conducted by nurses or persons who are not qualified to perform examinations with the purpose of providing a diagnosis are not acceptable.  Therefore, a medical certificate is to be provided and clearly signed by a person who is certified and a qualified medical practitioner.

A medical certificate that is provided by a person who does not fall under the category of qualified medical practitioners, although granted the authority to conduct such examinations, is deemed as not being a valid medical certificate thus being unacceptable.

It is thus essential that an employee or patient that attends a clinic is to ensure that the medical certificate that he/she receives is valid and signed by a qualified medical practitioner and is not merely an attendance certificate.  Should it be the latter, it would not form part of sick leave and the employee could receive unpaid leave.

The following are reasons that do not constitute valid reasons to invoke an employee’s entitlement to sick leave:

  1. Routine check-ups;
  2. Examinations;
  3. Tests;
  4. Visits to Optometrists, Gynaecologists and Physiotherapists, etc.;
  5. Collecting of medicine from the pharmacy; and
  6. Visits to specialist medical practitioners.

Credit: Lungie Luvuno, Candidate Attorney within Goldberg & De Viliers Inc., Human Resources and Labour Law Department.

For information please contact Tracey Mouton, Director, Goldberg & de Villiers Inc – | (041) 501 9818.

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