Can you be sacked on sick leave? – The short answer is no.
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan says it’s important that workers know their rights and obligations when it comes to sick leave.
If you’re sick – don’t go to work
For a start, it’s important that workers suffering from coughs, colds, aches and pains and high temperatures don’t go to work.
This is even more important as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the community.
Full-time employees are entitled to 10 paid sick days a year, which can be used at any time you are sick.
You can also use these days to care for a family member or someone you live with who is unwell.
Part-time workers are entitled to a pro-rata amount based on the hours that they work.
Make sure you tell your employer
It is important that you tell your boss as soon as possible that you are going to be taking the day off.
You should also tell them when you think you will be able to return to work.
You must provide evidence
Mr Heffernan says you may need to provide a medical certificate even if you take just one day off.
“Your boss is entitled to ask you to provide proof that you have been sick, or that you have been caring for a sick family member,” he said.
“Your employer can’t tell you which doctor to see, and it is not appropriate for anyone from your work to sit in on your appointment.”
Most importantly, Mr Heffernan says you cannot be sacked while you are on sick leave.
“It is unlawful for your employer to fire you for taking a genuine sick day, if can provide proof that you were unwell.”
A recent case before the Fair Work Commission involved bistro worker Corina Shears, who was fired from the Angle Vale Tavern north of Adelaide, when she was off work with gastro and tonsillitis.
Her boss called her when she was at home.
“He rang to advise me he was letting me go due to always being sick or my child being sick,” she told the Commission.
“I mentioned to him whenever I was unable to work I always supplied a doctor’s certificate.
“He said, we are a small team and I am being a liability. He then said to me, I will now have more time to be a mum.”
The Fair Work Commission ruled Shears had been unfairly dismissed and ordered the employer to pay her $2,500 compensation.
“Sick leave and taking care of your kids is enshrined in workplace law as a workplace right,” Mr Heffernan said.
“Employers who try to sack a worker or cut their hours because they are sick are running headlong into trouble.”
“SACKED ON SICK LEAVE – UNFAIR SAYS FAIR WORK COMMISSION”
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