Can You Actually Claim A Mental Health Day Without A Medical Certificate?

Mental health medical certificate Australia

“In my day we didn’t have mental health days,” like when you could punch holes in the wall without HR getting involved, Grandpa?

It’s hard to know what you’re actually entitled to when it comes to mental health at work, which is alarming considering that 43.7% of Australians experience a mental health issue in their lifetime according to this study.

To get some more insight on the topic, we asked Andrew Rich, Head of National Industrial and Employment Law at Slater and Gordon, everything you need to know about taking a mental health day.

(So the Karens at your office don’t come after you on a legal technicality.)

What is classified as a “sick day” in Australia?

According to Rich, a sick day means you are not fit for work due to illness or injury. *Cough,* go home when you’re feeling sick so other people don’t get sick *cough,* *cough.* (With the amount of coughing I’m doing, maybe I should go home too.)

Does a mental health day count as a sick day in Australia?

Stress and mental health problems can have a sufficient impact on your ability to do your job. According to Rich, a sick day refers to any “day when you are not fit for work due to illness or injury.”

“Whether you are medically fit to do your job will depend on exactly your state of mind and the nature of your job,” he explained.

Do I need to legally say it’s mental health when asking for a sick day?

Straight answer? No.

However, your employer can “inquire further into the reason for your leave, so as to be reasonably satisfied that you are not fit for work,” according to Rich.

My therapy is in session, boss.

Do I need a medical certificate for mental health?

If requested, then “you must be able to provide evidence that would satisfy a reasonable person that you are not fit for work,” says Rich.

“In some cases, the award or enterprise agreement that applies to you may set out the sort of evidence that will be acceptable.”

For example, a medical certificate or a statutory declaration, which I’m going to happily rub in my employers face.

What can I claim mental health under if I run out of sick days?

“After you run out of paid sick leave you may be able to access unpaid sick leave – on the same basis as paid sick leave. On some occasions, you can request to use annual leave if you need to keep being paid,” notes Rich.

To translate the above,there are generally options available to you if a day or two of leave just isn’t going to cut it.

He also noted that you may be entitled to income protection insurance or other benefits if your situation arose because of your job.

Can my boss say no to a mental health day?

“Not if you are able to provide appropriate evidence that you are not fit for work,” says Rich.

If they do say no even when you provided proof, go to the next point.

Should I involve a lawyer or my union if my job is refusing me a mental health day?

He explained that when your boss refuses you a sick day, even when evidence is provided, you should “obtain advice and assistance from your union or a lawyer – particularly if you would like support and/or do not feel comfortable raising the issue yourself”.

When you’re going through tough times, you shouldn’t have to worry about what you’re entitled to. Just check back to this article anytime and if your boss pushes back, it’s time to have a think about getting in contact with a lawyer.