EMBARRASSING ILLNESS

I have a medical condition that causes me embarrassment and I occasionally have to take sick leave for treatment. Do I have to reveal the nature of my medical condition when I am applying for sick leave?

The answer is no. Since 1985 there has been no requirement by the Department for teachers to state the nature of their illness for absences of three days or less. When applying for sick leave all you do is select “illness or injury” but the nature of the illness or injury remains confidential. Do not select the “stress related absence” option unless the absence relates to an injury or illness caused or aggravated by work.

It is advisable to get a medical certificate if you visit a health practitioner or doctor but it is not necessary to produce this certificate for absences of three days or less. The certificate should be kept by you so you can produce it if your sick leave record is queried by the Department under monitoring procedures.

A medical certificate is required to be submitted for absences of more than three days. A health practitioner can provide a medical certificate for absences up to five days and a general practitioner or specialist can provide a medical certificate for absences in excess of five days. Speak to your health practitioner or doctor about appropriate wording on the medical certificate that explains that you have an illness but does not cause you embarrassment.

If you are still feeling embarrassed or wish the nature of your illness to be kept confidential the following procedure should be followed: go to the Work Health and Safety page in the Department’s intranet and look in A-Z of WHS forms to download and complete “Independent Review of Medical Certificate” form and attach the relevant medical certificate(s).

Post the form and certificate(s) in an envelope marked “confidential” to DPC Corporate Administration Team, Medibank Health Solutions, GPO Box 9821, Sydney NSW 2001. Then the Manager, Work Health and Safety Corporate Support from the Department’s Work Health and Safety Directorate (or a delegate) will be advised by Medicare Health Solutions (the NSW Public Sectors medical assessment provider) whether a valid medical certificate has been provided. By doing this the nature of your illness remains confidential.

Further information can be obtained by going to the Members’ area on Federation’s website or contacting Communications on 1300 654 367 for a copy of Federation’s Welfare and Information leaflet L6 Sick leave to be emailed, faxed or posted to you, or by going to the Teachers Handbook at 4.11.

This is general information. Contact Federation’s Communications/Welfare on 1300 654 367 if you require advice relating to your personal circumstances.