At any one point in time the ALAEA would be advising on around five cases where members are dealing with a long term illness or injury. This notice serves as a guide to members who find themselves in that unfortunate situation. Often your employer will pretend to be assisting you to get back to work when really they are only trying to get hold of your personal information so they can build a case to terminate your employment. Employers sometimes hide behind an illness or injury to remove employees they don’t like, sack higher paid employees or avoid redundancy payments.
The game employers play hinges around them getting access to your medical information. When you are sick or injured they may offer assistance by sending you to the company doctor or other medical practitioners. The temptation exists in the sense that you may think it will save you money by them covering some of your medical costs. However the real reason this is often done is so they can find out more about you to build a case to claim you can no longer perform 100% of your duties. Once they have this your fate is in their hands.
If you find yourself in the situation above it is important to remember that, in most cases, Australian law does not give your employer an automatic right to your medical files. This information is private and resides solely in the relationship between you and your Doctor. Even from the early stages of an illness or disability, you should not forfeit your right to protect that information by handing control over to your employer. If you do, it could cost you your job, as it has with many ALAEA members. The hardest thing we usually have to deal with is members coming to us when it is too late. The first contact from members is often only after medical information has been given to a company and they are well advanced in building a case to say that the employee can no longer perform 100% of their duties. This is often followed up with communication from the company claiming they have tried, but unfortunately cannot find, any suitable restricted or alternative duties.
If you know you may have a long term illness or injury that will temporarily keep you from work, the following instructions need to be adhered to –
- Contact the ALAEA at the earliest opportunity.
- Do not hand any medical certificates or paperwork to the company until we have checked it.
- Until you have received advice do not agree to attend an appointment with a company-paid Doctor or practitioner.