Can my employer demand a medical certificate for unpaid sick leave?

Question Details: Can my employer ask me for a medical certificate at my own expense after using a day of unpaid sick leave? Can they also hand me a memo advising that all future unpaid sick leave will require a medical certificate at my own expense without holding a formal meeting or discussing the situation first?

Filed under Employment Law | 3991 View(s)

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Answers by Lawyers

Community Law Wellington & Hutt Valley

Depending on the terms of your employment agreement, or the general policy of your workplace, an employer can make a medical certificate a condition of taking unpaid leave.

The Holidays Act does not generally provide for unpaid sick leave. Any rights and obligations in respect of unpaid sick leave will therefore be a matter of agreement between you and your employer.

If there is a precedent of not requiring a medical certificate for unpaid sick leave, you may be able bring a personal grievance on the basis that your employer, in implementing this policy, has taken an action which affects your employment or conditions of work, is to your disadvantage, and is unjustifiable. However, this will depend on the circumstances.

We recommend you visit your local Community law Centre with a copy of your employment contract to find out about options for further advice. To find your nearest Community Law Centre, please visit this website:

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