Is a Medical Certificate from a Pharmacy Enough?

Medical certificate being signed in a pharmacy

Have you ever felt unwell and needed a medical certificate for work but dreaded the thought of having to schedule an appointment with your doctor? It can be frustrating and time-consuming, especially if you are feeling under the weather. This is where a medical certificate from a pharmacy or formally known as a sick certificate, comes in handy. In this article, we will discuss why it may not be necessary for you to see a doctor just for a medical certificate and where you can obtain one without the hassle.

What is a Medical Certificate?

First, let’s clarify what a medical certificate is. According to the Fair Work Act, an employer can request evidence or a document when an employee takes sick leave or carer’s leave. These documents, often called ‘medical certificates’, prove that you cannot work due to illness.

These certificates, issued by health professionals, might be called ‘absence from work certificates’ or ‘sick leave certificates.’ To avoid confusion, this blog will refer to all certificates, including carer’s leave certificates, as ‘medical certificates’, as they are generally known.

Now that we understand what a medical certificate is, let’s discuss why you might need one and how to obtain one without seeing a doctor.

When Do You Need a Medical Certificate?

As mentioned earlier, most employers will require a medical certificate if you are taking sick leave or carer’s leave. However, it is important to note that employees can take personal leave even for minor mental health issues like headaches, body aches, or mild insomnia caused by work stress. For serious mental health concerns, it is best to consult a medical professional, such as your local GP. An employee is entitled to paid carer’s leave, when caring for or supporting an immediate family or household member due to personal illness, injury, or an unexpected emergency.

A member of immediate family or household is considered:

  • Spouse or former spouse
  • De facto partner or former de facto partner
  • Child
  • Parent
  • Step-relations (e.g., step-children, step-parents, and also adoptive relations)
  • Grandparent
  • Grandchild
  • Sibling
  • Child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling of the employee’s spouse or de facto partner (or former spouse or de facto partner), or
  • Any person who lives with the employee

Why You Don’t Need to See a GP for a Medical Certificate

Traditionally, getting a medical certificate involves visiting a General Practitioner (GP). Which involves booking an appointment, waiting for your consultation, out of pocket expenses, and then requesting a signed medical certificate  from the GP. For many, this can be a time-consuming and inconvenient process, especially when handling minor ailments or needing prompt documentation for work compliance.

According to the Australian Fair Work Act 2009, pharmacists can assess symptoms and issue certificates as valid proof of absence from work. However, although it is rare, some workplaces may require a certificate signed by a registered medical practitioner. In which case, a sick certificate might not suffice. It is best to consult your HR representative to understand your obligations.

In situations where an individual is unable to physically attend their workplace, the ability to obtain an absence from work certificate, commonly referred to as medical certificate, from a pharmacy eliminates the need for travel and waiting times, ensuring prompt and efficient documentation. Minimising time for both you and your employer.

The Role of Pharmacists in Providing Medical Certificates

Pharmacists are authorised to assess and provide medical certificates under specific conditions. This does not mean they can replace the role of GPs when it comes to diagnosing and treating illnesses. Pharmacists are trained professionals with expertise in medication management which enables them to assist with minor ailments. They also have knowledge of conditions that require further medical attention, and are able to refer patients to a GP if necessary.

Pharmacy-issued sick leave certificates or medical certificate services are not intended to replace GP consultations. Instead, they offer a convenient and efficient option for individuals who need evidence of their absence from work due to minor illnesses.

How To Obtain A Medical Certificate Online

Woman filling out her online medical questionnaire

Obtaining a sick leave certificate is easier than ever, thanks to services such as Oncare Health. The process is simple and involves just a few steps:

Step 1: Choosing your certificate type

When applying for your online leave certificate, it’s important to request the applicable type.  There are two options: Sick Leave Certificates and Carer’s Leave Certificates.

Step 2: Filling Out Your Details

After selecting the correct certificate, the next step is to fill in your personal details. Just provide your full name, gender, date of birth, email address, phone number, and residential address. It’s important to triple check your email address when applying, as an incorrect email address can result in your certificate not being delivered. In some cases, you may need to apply for a second certificate, if the first does not arrive.

Step 3: Answer a Simple Questionnaire

After entering your personal details, you’ll be asked to fill out a questionnaire about your condition. It is important to note that all information is kept confidential, following the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) guidelines.

Step 4: Payment

Once you’ve finished the questionnaire, you’ll be taken to the online payment portal to pay for your application. This step uses a secure online payment system, where your card details won’t be stored.

Step 5: Receive Your Certificate

Once our team approves your request, your certificate will be sent to you. If you don’t receive your certificate, please reach out to our support. To ensure this doesn’t happen, make sure you entered the correct email address.

The Legitimacy of Medical Certificates from a Pharmacy

It’s important to note that a certificate signed by a pharmacist is as valid as one signed by a doctor. In Australia, pharmacists are authorised health professionals who can issue Sick Leave and Carer’s Leave certificates as valid proof of absence from work, just like medical certificates issued by doctors The Australian Fair Work Act 2009 supports this authority, allowing pharmacists to provide certificates similar to medical certificates for certain conditions.

Pharmacists receive thorough training and are qualified to evaluate a patient’s condition and provide proper documentation. Therefore, a certificate from a pharmacist is legally valid and reliable, allowing employees to present them to their employers with confidence. To know more about the legality of pharmacist signed certificates please read our blog “What You Need to Know About Online Medical Certificates: Are They Legal?

Key Takeaways

A medical certificate authorised by a pharmacist is a valid and reliable form of documentation (for most workplaces) when taking leave due to illness or carer responsibilities. The process of obtaining one is quick, secure, and confidential..

By following the steps outlined above, employees can confidently request and provide their employers with proper documentation when absent from work. So, if you are feeling unwell or need to take care of a loved one, don’t hesitate to obtain a medical certificate authorised by a pharmacist.

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