The question about medical certificates arises often . Employers believe that if an employee produces a medical certificate as justification for a period of absence, they must pay the employee. Employees believe that employers are obliged to treat the absence as paid sick leave. All of this leads to abuse of the system.
According to a court judgement handed down by the Labour Appeal Court in 2006, medical certificates constitute hearsay evidence. The Evidence Amendment Act 45 of 1998 makes it very clear that hearsay evidence includes evidence given in writing by someone, other than the deponent to an affidavit. This means that a medical certificate submitted by the employee is evidence given in writing by another person, which therefore constitutes hearsay evidence and is not admissible unless supported by other direct evidence.
The Labour Appeal Court stated that absence of affidavits from the doctors led to the inference that they were not prepared to defend the certificates under oath. Therefore, employers do not have to accept a medical certificate at face value and are entitled to query it, or depending on the circumstances, to reject it and take disciplinary action against the employee, or merely treat the period of absence as unpaid leave.
If you have any questions in this regard, kindly contact us or call our office on 033 266 6170.