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Medical Reports

Published May 9, 2018 (last updated on May 14, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Copywriter and Content Creator

Medical reports are necessary to find out if an employee is genuinely sick or injured, and whether the cause is work-related or not. It is important to understand an employer cannot force an employee to go see a doctor or get a medical examination. However, an employer can send the employee home (suspend them) if they have good reason to believe the employee is impaired and cannot work safely or effectively.

When it comes to diagnosing work-related health problems, a general practitioner may not be enough. A medical assessment from a specialist doctor can help decide whether an employee is fit to work or not.

When can employers ask for a medical report?

An employer can ask for proof of illness or injury when an employee takes sick leave. The cost of getting a medical certificate or medical reports depends on the length of sick leave and when the request is made. When an employer requests an employee show proof of their illness, the following rules apply:

  • Less than three days of sick leave: the employer must pay the doctor’s fee

  • Three or more consecutive days: the employee must pay the doctor’s fee

  • Under all circumstances: an employer cannot legally tell an employee which doctor or practice they must go to

Acceptable proof of illness or injury

Usually, proof will be a medical certificate from a doctor that says the employee is sick or injured and cannot work, and when they are expected to be fit to return. If the employee is caring for a spouse, partner or dependant; the employee must retrieve a medical certificate to confirm their condition. It is an employer’s duty to keep these medical certificates for record keeping purposes.

If an employer asks for proof of sickness or injury, and the employee does not provide this, the employer can refuse to pay them for the sick leave used.

Scheduled breaks and extra benefits

Sometimes an employee will take sick leave in-between their scheduled break. For example, where an employee takes sick leave on Monday, has a scheduled break on Tuesday, and another sick day on Wednesday. In this case, the employee is considered to have been sick for three days in a row. Therefore, if the employer asks for proof of illness or injury, the employee has to pay for the cost of getting that proof.

An employee who has extra sick leave benefits in their employment agreement might be required to submit a certain kind of medical report. Depending on the agreement, they might also be liable for the cost of getting proof.

Health and safety audits

If there is good reason to believe the illness or injury of an employee occurred in the workplace, a further investigation may be needed to identify the cause. These investigations are usually handled by a dedicated WorkSafe New Zealand doctor.

The purpose of these investigations is to find out:

  • if an employee has been, or is being exposed to, a hazard

  • the overall level of exposure

  • how much the employee’s health or wellbeing is or has been affected by the exposure

If the investigation proves that the illness or injury came from the workplace, the employer will need to cooperate with WorkSafe to make sure the incident does not happen again, and penalties may apply depending on the situation.

For advice on how to manage medical record keeping in the workplace, contact Employsure on 0800 568 012.

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