by Jonathan Goldberg and Grant Wilkinson

The issue of sick notes has been in the news recently with an individual – purporting to be a doctor – selling sick notes. With the validity of such certificates being called into question, how can you – as an employer – tell if a sick note that one of your employees gives you is valid?

Section 23 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act

Section 23 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) sets out the requirements that a sick note must fulfil:

  • The note must be issued and signed by medical practitioner. Alternatively, the certificate must be issued and signed by an individual who is certified to diagnose and treat patients. In addition, these individuals must be registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).

Thus for a medical certificate to be valid, it must state that the employee was unable to perform his or her normal duties owing to illness or injury. The medical practitioner must have personally examined the employee and the medical certificate needs to state as much. If the medical certificate states something to the effect of “The patient told me that he had been ill”, this is not valid.


Take care,


Johnny and Grant