Does the employer have the right to attend a medical appointment with a worker?
The short answer is NO.
Unions are becoming increasingly concerned with what we see as the growing trend of employers subjecting employees to intrusive and discriminatory behaviours, including:
- Employers or their representatives attending medical appointments with workers
- Injured workers being subject to constant medical assessments even after their doctor has cleared them to return to work
- Growth of Doctor Networks, funded by employers, and concerns that these are providing substandard care and sending injured workers back to work too soon
- Employers seeking access to ALL of a worker's health information rather than that directly linked to a workplace injury
- Employers inappropriately sharing medical information with third parties, such as insurers and superannuation funds.
This concern has been raised by the ACTU and is shared by both the Australian Medical Association and the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Specifically with regard to reports of employers attempting to attend medical appointments with employees, the Fair Work Ombudsman has said it 'does not condone or support this behaviour and sees no reason why an employer should seek to attend a private and confidential appointment with an employee, unless specifically requested to do so by the employee.' In a Media Release at the time, the Fair Work Ombudsman said: "The laws around sick leave and personal leave are quite simple. While an employer may request evidence that would substantiate the reason for an employee's entitlement to personal/carer leave, a medical certificate or statutory declaration is generally considered an acceptable form of evidence."
The current advice on the Fair Work Ombudsman's website is:
Employers attending medical appointments
We don't consider it reasonable for an employer to go to a medical appointment with an employee unless an employee requests this.
We also don't consider it reasonable for an employer to contact the employee's doctor for further information.
Source reference: Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) section 107
If your employer tries to pressure you in this way, contact your union or the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Last amended April 2019