Insist on a medical certificate

When must a medical certificate be produced by an employee? Can an employer refuse to pay an employee who has been off sick?

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act states that an employer is not required to pay an employee if the employee:

  • has been absent from work for more than two consecutive days or on more than two occasions during an eight-week period; and
  • on request by the employer, does not produce a medical certificate stating that the employee was unable to work for the duration of the employee’s absence on account of sickness or injury.

There are also certain requirements that a Medical Certificate needs to meet. The Certificate must be legible, and must contain the following information:

  • the name, address and qualifications of the medical practitioner, as well as the practice number;
  • the name of the employee, or some other clear identification that the patient was indeed the employee, such as the employee’s staff number;
  • the date and time of the examination;
  • whether the certificate is issued as a result of the medical practitioner’s examination of the employee, or as a result of information received from the employee, and is based on acceptable medical grounds;
  • an indication that the medical practitioner is satisfied that the employee was too sick to work for the whole period, or whether the employee is still able to perform less strenuous duties for some or all of the time;
  • a description, in simple terms, of the injury or illness. If the employee does not consent to disclosing this information, the medical practitioner must indicate that, based on the medical examination, the employee is unfit to work;
  • the exact period of the recommended sick leave;
  • the date of issue of the medical certificate;
  • a clear identification of the medical practitioner who issued the certificate.

In short, ensure that you have notified your staff, via their Contract of Employment and/or your Company’s General Policies & procedures of employment, what the requirements are in respect of sick leave entitlement and sick notes. And make sure that you have made available the relevant Labour Forms for them to lodge a sick leave form.


Please note that this information is supplied for general information and does not constitute legal advice. It is advisable for you to contact a legal practitioner for guidance in respect of your unique requirements.