My employee is going to wag work for the footy. Help!

Dear Aunty B,

I have just been tipped off that an employee plans to take a day off to travel to the footy finals in Melbourne. Apparently he has been boasting in the office that he has a doctor mate who will give him a medical certificate.

I can’t believe he will go to these lengths. What can I do? Can I challenge his medical certificate?

Fiona L,


Dear Fiona,

I am glad you outed yourself as a woman, which goes some way to explaining your bewilderment. What do you mean you can’t believe he will go to these lengths? Don’t you understand the footy fever that grips the minds of the normally sane men of this fine nation? Normally well behaved employees lie, skip work, fake medical certificates and worse to watch that little oval ball be kicked around a bit of grass.

So believe it! Now, what are your options? You can send a stern email around to all staff reminding everyone not to misuse medical leave and suggesting that if people need time off that they see you, swap shifts and it is likely they will be accommodated.

That might nip it in the bud. Or you could approach him with a special project that will keep him busy reporting to you for the next few Fridays.

If he is foolish enough to try his little caper and the doctor is unprofessional enough to sign a certificate without examining him, then you could challenge the certificate, as an employer did in one recent case.

While some employers are reluctant to look behind a medical certificate provided by an employee, you can seek clarification about the capacity of an employee to work from the employee’s doctor. It is within your rights to ask if the doctor examined him and whether he was in fact capable to work.

If his other work is poor, I would suggest raising the issue of the missed day with him, tell him you are docking his pay and give him a warning – “shape up or ship out”. Hopefully next time the AFL finals swing around he has another job and is wagging on someone else’s time.

Meanwhile may I suggest you stock up on good books or take a trip to Vietnam? September is a long month for those who hate football.

Good luck!

Your Aunty B.

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