Agents may authorise a period beyond 14 days for initial medical certificate The first medical certificate is for a maximum of 14 days and can only be issued by a registered medical practitioner. (first certificate) or 28 days for ongoing Certificates of Capacity (subsequent certificate), if they believe special reasons exist.
Authorise extended certificates
Initial medical certificates that exceed 14 days or ongoing Certificates of Capacity that exceed 28 days are only authorised for the extended period if:
- there are special reasons written on the certificate, explaining why the certificate covers the longer period or
- the Agent has enough information (from the worker's file for example) to infer from the details on the certificate that there is a special reason for an extended certificate and
- the Agent is satisfied that there are special reasons to warrant an extension.
Note: A certificate is valid even if the extended period is not authorised, i.e. the certificate is still valid for 14 days (first certificate) or 28 days (subsequent certificate).
- spinal cord resulting in paraplegia or quadriplegia
- amputation of major limbs
- major psychiatric disease that requires hospitalisation
- myocardial infarction
- paralysing disease or injury
- severe brain affliction, for example: stroke or brain injury
- internal cancer including leukaemia
- the worker depends heavily on others, for example: severe continuing brain damage or quadriplegia
- long haul recovery, for example: paralysing diseases, surgery to vertebrae, paraplegia, serious infection, osteomyelitis, brain abscess or tuberculosis
- permanent incapacity, for example:
- any worker living overseas who has satisfied the Agent before leaving Australia, that they have no current work capacity Under the legislation, unless inconsistent with the context or subject-matter — current work capacity, in relation to a worker, means a present inability arising from an injury such that the worker is not able to return to his or her pre-injury employment but is able to return to work in suitable employment, declared training program and this is likely to continue indefinitely
- an examination by an independent medical examiner confirms that the worker will be continuously incapacitated at the same level
- the worker has been classified as having no current work capacity indefinitely.
Maximum time limit for extended certificates
There is no limit on the maximum length of time for which a Certificate of Capacity Ongoing certificate is issued for up to 28 days and can be issued by a: medical practitioner, osteopath, physiotherapist, chiropractor. can be extended. Each claim must be assessed on its merits. However, the Agent must be satisfied that the worker does not require a review by a health practitioner during the period of the extended certificate.
If the reason for extended certificates is not one of the examples listed above:
- the Agent must be satisfied that the information contained in the certificate is enough to authorise the extended period such as an anticipated return to work date noted on certificate or practitioner is going on leave
- a file note should be made as to the reasons why the extended period has been authorised
- Agents should only approve an extension of the certificate for a period of up to 14 calendar days after the expiry of the 28 day period and
- if the certifier continues to issue certificates for greater than 28 days, Agents should advise the worker and the certifier that further certificates will only be valid for 28 days (or less).
If the Agent is satisfied that a Certificate of Capacity meets the criteria to extend the certificate they must:
- decide the extended period that will be authorised
- advise the worker of the length of time for which Certificates of Capacity will be accepted and of changes to this authorisation
- determine if the authorisation for an extended certificate is a 'one off' or can apply to ongoing certificates.
Community integration program
Workers who participate in the Community Integration Program can obtain certificates that cover periods of up to 12 months.
Usually a certificate is issued on the date of examination. A backdated certificate is where the commencement date of incapacity is before the date of the examination.
If the certificate is backdated the reasons should be stated on the certificate.
For example 'certified copy - original certificate issued on date of examination lost'.
The legislation limits backdating of a certificate to 90 days.
An acceptable reason to backdate could be that the next certificate was due during a weekend or public holiday period. It would be acceptable to accept a certificate for a backdated period if issued directly after the holiday period.
Agents are to review the circumstances of each claim and ask for necessary information to accept or reject the backdated certificate.
Post-dated certificates are where a period of incapacity is from a future date. They can be accepted if special reasons are stated on the certificate and the reasons are reasonable.
Post-dated certificates - greater than 28 days
Any period in excess of 28 days of the date of issue has no effect unless the doctor writes the special reasons on the certificate or there is enough information on the certificate for the Agent to approve the extended period.
Post-dated certificates start two days after examination
If the worker already has a Certificate of Capacity that covers the date of the examination, WorkSafe allows the 28 day period to start two working days after the examination.