IR Bill Changes Make A 'Dog's Breakfast' of Sick Leave

AMA President, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, said today that late changes to the Government's industrial relations legislation have eroded the integrity and intent of sick leave certification to such an extent that workers can now ask virtually anyone classified as a 'health care practitioner' to authorise them days off work.

Among the most recent curious amendments to the Government's IR Bill is an unheralded change of terminology from 'medical practitioner' (a doctor) to 'registered health practitioner' for people legally approved to provide workers with sick leave certificates.

People who classify as 'registered health practitioners' will vary between the States and Territories but universally there will be a large number of professions other than doctors.

As The Daily Telegraph reports today, in NSW 'registered health practitioners' include chiropractors, dental technicians, dentists, nurses, midwives, optical dispensers, optometrists, osteopaths, pharmacists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, psychologists…and doctors.

"These changes make a mockery of the sick leave system," Dr Haikerwal said.

"Instead of strengthening the integrity of sick leave certification, these changes drive a truck through the intent of the IR policy and could lead to people being less careful about their health.

"The work of a lot of these health professionals is more concerned about wellness than illness, and allowing them to certify illness could lead to a flood of people seeking time off work for non-medical reasons.

"It looks like the only people not allowed to certify sick leave under the new Bill are the butchers, the bakers and the candlestick makers.

"These amendments do not make sense.

"People who are seeking a medical opinion about their health should be seeing a medical practitioner for that advice and the appropriate certification where necessary," Dr Haikerwal said.

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