Posted on: Nov 27, 2014
An employer was ordered to pay an employee wage arrears for four days’ sick leave taken in March 2014 despite the fact the employee only produced vague medical certificates to justify the leave in April 2014.
The employee took off two Fridays and two Mondays and did not provide a medical certificate for either of the periods. The employee did not realise that under s 68 of the Holidays Act 2003 (the Act) the employer was entitled to require him to produce a certificate for a period of leave of three or more consecutive days whether or not the days were working days. The employer refused to pay sick leave but after discussions with a Labour Inspector on 14 April 2014 agreed to pay if the employee produced a valid medical certificate. The employee went to his doctor on 16 April and got two certificates that merely recorded the employee had reported to the doctor stating he had been unfit for work on the relevant days.
The employer was not satisfied with the certificates because the employee had not gone to the doctor until 16 April and it considered the information was too vague and that the retrospective certificates were farcical. The employer refused to pay sick leave. The employee lodged a wage claim in the Employment Relations Authority.
The employer and employee consented to the Authority Member attending the clinic and receiving information on the medical notes made by the employee’s doctor. The doctor indicated that she had no concerns over issuing the certificates.
The Authority noted the employer was entitled to require proof of sickness under s 68(1) of the Act but said the employer could not complain about the lateness of the certificate because the employer did not meet the requirements of s 68(1A) (which would have entitled to employer to require proof of illness within the sick leave period) and had failed to inform the employee as early as possible that proof was required. Because the employer had failed to ask for certificates as early as possible the Authority held the employee’s delay in getting the certificates was not fatal to his application for wage arrears. It accepted the doctor’s evidence that the employee had described symptoms that would have justified the issue of medical certificates and concluded the employee was entitled to the payment for sick leave.
Noyes v TWCE (2004) ltd  NZERA Auckland 369.
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