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Does Sipho have to produce a doctor's letter when he calls in sick?

by , 03 April 2014
Picture this...It's Monday morning and you get a call from Sipho, he tells you that he isn't feeling well and can't come to work as a result. He apologises for the inconvenience he's caused. The big question is: Do you have any recourse as an employer? Can you ask him for a doctor's certificate when he returns to work? Read on to find out so you can comply with basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA).

Here's what to do when Sipho calls in sick

SME Toolkit South Africa says you can ask your employee to produce a valid medical certificate if he's been absent from work for more than two days in a row or more than twice in eight weeks. You also have the right to do this if he's sick on a Monday or a Friday to ensure he's not just taking a long weekend.

If your employee fails to produce a valid medical certificate, you don't have to fork out sick pay.

You may have noticed that we used the word 'valid' when talking about a medical certificate (doctor's letter).

We've done this because you can't just accept any medical certificate your employee produces. It has to meet certain requirements…


In 2014 you will contribute to R19 billion spent in sick leave!

Sounds impossible, I know. I didn't believe it either. But R19 billion is what sick leave costs South African companies a year. This is equal to the amount medical aids paid to suppliers in 2010.

And did you know R57million of that is from employees taking 'sick days' off purely because they just didn't feel like coming in to work?

Stop your employees abusing sick leave today! Our experts will show you how…


When Sipho returns to work after taking sick leave, make sure his medical certificate contains the following:

In this article, we explained that a medical certificate must be issued and signed by a medical practitioner or any other person certified to diagnose and treat patients. This person must be registered with a professional council established by an Act of Parliament.

We also highlighted that the medical certificate must contain:

  • The name, address, qualifications of the practitioner and practice number
  • The name of the patient
  • The employment number of the patient (if applicable)
  • The date and time of the examination
  • Whether the certificate is being issued as a result of personal observations by the practitioner during an examination, or as a result of the information received from the patient that is based on acceptable medical grounds
  • A clear indication that the doctor is satisfied your employee was too sick or injured to work for the entire period of absence
  • Whether the patient is totally indisposed for duty or whether the patient is able to perform less strenuous duties in the work situation
  • The exact period of recommended sick leave
  • The date of issuing the certificate of illness
  • A clear indication of the identity of the practitioner who issued the certificate.

There you have it. Knowing what to do when an employee calls in sick will help ensure you're in line with the BCEA.

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