Missed This Change? Certification of Employee Sickness

17 November 2017

DianaA surprising change to the Holidays Act will allow employees to obtain proof of sickness from a range of health professionals, not just doctors, from January 31 2018.

Practitioners registered with these authorities will be able to provide certificates for sick leave purposes:

  • Chiropractic Board
  • Dental Council
  • Dietitians Board
  • Medical Sciences Council of New Zealand
  • Medical Radiation Technologists Board
  • Medical Council
  • Midwifery Council
  • Nursing Council
  • Occupational Therapy Board
  • Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Board
  • Osteopathic Council
  • Pharmacy Council
  • Physiotherapy Board
  • Podiatrists Board
  • Psychologists Board
  • Psychotherapists Board

Traditional Chinese Medicine was also being considered for regulation.

This change has slipped under the radar of most advisors and clarification needs to be sought that these other providers will also need to follow the NZ Medical Council’s GP Guidelines for issuing medical certificates.

Currently, under the Holidays Act 2003, an employer may require proof of sickness when an employee takes sick leave if the sickness or injury that gave rise to the leave is for a period of three or more consecutive calendar days.

An employer may also require proof for a period of less than three calendar days, but at the employer’s cost.

The Act states that proof of sickness or injury may include a certificate from a medical practitioner. Currently, a medical practitioner is defined as “a health practitioner who is, or is deemed to be, registered with the Medical Council of New Zealand continued by section 114(1)(a) of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 as a practitioner of the profession of medicine.”

This current situation means that proof of sickness or injury may include a certificate from a registered medical doctor.

This situation will change on January 31 when the Holidays Amendment Act (No 2) 2016 comes into effect.

Nurses, pharmacists, dietitians can approve sick leave

This amendment replaces the term “medical practitioner” with “health practitioner”.

A health practitioner is also defined in the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (HPCA Act), in section 5, as: “a person who is, or is deemed to be, registered with an authority as a practitioner of a particular health profession”.

In that definition, an authority is a body corporate appointed by or under this Act, as the body that is responsible for the registration and oversight of practitioners of a particular health profession.

Accordingly, a health profession or profession means the practice of a profession in respect of which an authority is appointed by or under the HPCA Act.

Consequently, from January 31, proof of sickness or injury may include a certificate from a much wider range of professionals – from practitioners registered with the extra 16 authorities listed above.

If you are unsure of the validity of certification provided by your employees, or any other matter related to absences, just give one of our legal team a call for clarification.


Diana Hudson | Managing Solicitor


Legal Team


Diana Hudson | Managing Solicitor | 03 456 1804 | 021 816 469 | diana@osea.org.nz

David Browne | Solicitor | 03 456 1812 | 021 225 6938 | david@osea.org.nz

Angela MacKenzie | Solicitor | 03 218 7962 | 021 756 809 | angela@osea.org.nz

Grant Walker | Advocate | 03 455 5165 | grant@osea.org.nz

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