Our most frequently asked questions about leave

Can employees text to say that they are sick? When can I request a doctor’s certificate? Is there a standard leave application form? For the answers to these questions…


Q. Is texting an acceptable way for employees to advise me if they are unable to work due to illness?
A. How you want staff to advise you of sick leave is your choice.

We advise most clients to speak directly with staff as opposed to relying on a text message. This direct contact enables you to gather more information and make a better assessment as to the support needed, time off required and whether sick leave is for self/spouse/child, and lastly it will give you a sense of whether you feel it appropriate to request a medical certificate.

Direct contact allows you to re-schedule and re-prioritise the employee’s work and meet any client deadlines.


Q. When are employees required to inform me that they are sick?
A. Employees are required to inform their employer, at the earliest opportunity, of their intention to take sick leave – preferably before they are due to start work, but otherwise as early as possible after falling sick.


Q. When can I request a doctor’s note and who is liable for the fee?
A. Employers are able to ask for proof (i.e. medical certificate) of sickness or injury at any time once an employee takes sick leave.  However, there are rules that apply if you request this proof:

  • Employee Pays – for any proof of sickness or injury from day three onwards
  • Employer Pays – on day one or two of the employee taking sick leave
  • The employer has a duty to ask for any proof required early onAs an Employer you may not need to pay for the medical certificate if your employee has already sought medical advice before you have asked for it – just have a conversation with your employee.

Q. Can I withhold paying sick leave until a medical certificate is provided for the day(s) in question?
A. If an employee fails, without reasonable explanation, to provide proof of illness or injury when required by the employer to do so, the employer does not have to pay the employee for the leave until proof is provided.


Q. How much notice does an employee need to give when it comes to leave requests?

  • Sick & Bereavement Leave – a reasonable expectation of an employee would be to ring you within 60 minutes of their normal starting time.  Ideally more notice is preferable.
  • Annual Leave – we recommend a minimum of two weeks however you might want to extend this time-frame for leave of more than 1 week
  • Roster Changes – we recommend that the amount of notice correlates with the roster cycleYou have a right to ask for proof to support leave requests (i.e. medical certificate, death notice).
    From time to time, staff may ask for leave at short notice, and as a good employer you would duly consider this request.  If you can accommodate the short notice leave request, then that is at your discretion.

Q. Is there a standard leave application form?
A. If you haven’t got a standard leave form for your business use our Leave Request Form.


Access our starter Leave Policy if you want to introduce some standards for your business.