By Charles Power
As you know, we receive a lot of questions from subscribers here at the Bulletin.
And while some are only relevant to the people who ask them, there are quite a few questions we get that apply to many workplaces.
So when I start seeing questions like this come through, I like keep them on file so I can share them (and their answers!) with you.
Here are 3 frequently asked subscriber questions (and their answers!):
Question: When an employee becomes ill while they are on annual leave, can they change their leave to sick leave?
Answer: Yes, section 89(2) of the Fair Work Act states that if the period during which an employee takes paid annual leave includes a period of any other leave (i.e. sick leave) the employee is taken not to be on paid annual leave for the period of that other leave or absence. Therefore, you must re-credit the employee their annual leave for the duration of the illness and deduct the equivalent sum from their personal leave balance.
Question: What kind of medical certificates are acceptable evidence of an employee being unfit for work? For example, are certificates from chiropractors acceptable?
Answer: It is not mandatory that an employee taking sick leave provide a medical certificate. The employee only needs to provide evidence that would satisfy a reasonable person that the employee is unfit for work. This evidence may be contained by a medical certificate or a statutory declaration. The legislation defines a medical certificate as one issued by a medical practitioner registered or licensed under State or territory legislation. A chiropractor is a registered health practitioner but not a registered medical practitioner.
Question: Can I inform a casual employee that I wish to change their employment to part time?
Answer: In order to convert a casual employee to part-time employment, you will need to do so with the employee’s consent and ideally you should also provide the employee with a new contract of employment. If the employee does not wish to convert their employment, you will not unilaterally be able to make this change, because doing so would expose the company to a claim for breach of contract and potentially unfair dismissal proceedings.
To find out the answers to more frequently asked employment law questions, keep an eye out for the Letters section in your next Employment Law Practical Handbook update. It’s due in your mailbox shortly!
Until next time…