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Use of Fake Medical Certificates and Employment Fallout: A Case Study

Medical Certificates

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Use of Fake Medical Certificates and Employment Fallout: A Case Study

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Online medical certificates have introduced a convenient alternative for individuals seeking validation of their inability to work due to illness or injury. 

However, online certificates have also raised questions regarding their reliability, authenticity, and potential for misuse. 

Understanding the implications and regulations surrounding online medical certificates in Australia is essential for employers, healthcare professionals, and individuals.

Information About Medical Certificate Guidelines

The Medical Council of NSW has published several guidelines that healthcare professionals must adhere to when issuing medical certificates. 

When issuing medical certificates, medical practitioners bear significant legal and professional obligations. They are required to:

  • Maintain honesty and avoid misleading information in the issuance of medical certificates.
  • Only endorse medical certificates they genuinely believe, or reasonably believe, to be accurate.

This entails ensuring that the medical certificate is grounded in factual information known to the doctor, including the practitioner’s observations and the details provided by the patient. 

This confidentiality must be respected if the patient does not wish to disclose the medical condition.

More information about it is here: Good medical practice: a code of conduct for doctors in Australia.

Problem

The employee requested a three-day sick leave due to personal circumstances. The employer required a medical certificate from the employee. 

The employee self-issued a fake medical certificate using a doctor’s credentials and a company letterhead pad to present it to his employer. 

Response

Upon receiving the medical certificate, the employer emailed to request verification from the healthcare professional.

At Panraa Clinics, the medical professional promptly checked their records, indicating that Panraa Clinics had not provided the medical certificate to the employee. 

This meant the employee had presented a fake medical certificate. 

Upon further investigation, it was revealed that the employee had been forging fake certificates on his own. The employee had presented fake sick certificates to the employer months prior, prompting an investigation.  

Solution

The investigation concluded that the employee had lied about their behavior and presented a fake medical certificate.

After learning about the employee’s action, the company terminated his employment based on the information from his previous records.

Things Employers Should Consider

A medical certificate is a document that states when the employee is unfit for work.

If the certificate contains any inconsistencies or appears suspicious, employers should inquire with the doctor or contact the clinic directly. 

Doctors or medical receptionists can confirm a patient’s visit but may refrain from discussing medical details with third parties.

Employers also have the option to request that an employee undergo an independent medical examination as part of their investigation process.

At Panraa Clinics, we urge all employers and universities to always verify the validity and authenticity of medical certificates. 

What Happens If You Fake A Medical Certificate?

Should it be determined that an employee has submitted a fraudulent certificate, disciplinary measures may be necessary. 

In most cases, this would involve issuing a warning; however, termination of employment could be considered.

Legal Ramifications of Producing Fake Medical Certificates

Penalties For Trademark Infringement

A company’s letterhead pad containing the company name, logo, and address is its legal property and is protected by trademark and copyright laws in Australia. 

These laws outline harsh penalties for trademark infringement, including acts of counterfeiting and piracy, which are considered serious criminal offenses.

In addition to any civil action or mediation, the court can opt to impose penalties of up to five years of imprisonment and fines of up to $99,000. 

This means these penalties could compensate the trademark owner and cover all legal costs related to the case.

Panraa Clinics is determined to take legal action against any person or entity that uses the Panraa Clinics logo, letterhead pad, and credentials to produce or copy letters or documents, including medical certificates or laboratory request forms. 

Conclusion

While most employees are likely to present authentic medical documentation, there might be instances where individuals attempt to exploit their leave privileges. 

Employers should exercise caution when receiving medical certificates from employees and assess whether further investigation is warranted.

A medical certificate issued by a licensed medical professional typically serves as adequate evidence of an employee’s absence from work due to illness. 

Nevertheless, employers should establish clear policies on medical certificates endorsed by a healthcare practitioner to prevent fake medical certificates in Australia from being used as the required form of validation.

It is also necessary to check with the practitioner if the employer suspects the employee presented a false medical certificate.

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