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Examples hereof are medical certificates. This is a real problem area – medical certificates can be purchased at a large number of places. It is not common for employees to alter the dates on a medical certificate, in order to have more time off work on full pay. Another example is clock cards or attendance registers.

What to look for?

Carefully examine the medical certificate. It should contain the doctor’s name, qualifications, and usually a postal address, but it must contain the physical address of their consulting rooms, contact telephone numbers, and so on.

It must also show their practice number (registration/license to practice medicine).

You can check whether it is a genuine certificate by contacting the Medical and Dental Health Professional Council and giving them the practice number.

Carefully examine the medical certificate to see if you can detect any altered dates or inserted dates. For example, a medical certificate that books the employee off from 1/08/2023 until 3/08/2023 can easily be altered to read 1/08/2023 to 13/08/2023 by merely inserting the figure “1” in front of the figure “3”.

Use a magnifying glass – this will usually show that the figure “1” that was inserted is a different ink or even a different handwriting to the figure “1” on the first date. Usually, it is also not difficult to detect that a medical certificate has been altered. It may even be an alteration to the date of the consultation – Tippex is commonly used. Any detected alteration to the medical certificate must result in a phone call to the doctor, or better still, a visit to their consulting rooms with the suspect medical certificate.

The actual period of absence must be compared with the dates on the medical certificate. Check the employee’s previous sick leave record to establish any indications of abuse. If the record shows frequent absences on sick leave, investigate to make sure that you are not possibly dealing with a case of incapacity due to ill health. If so, a different procedure is called for.

What must the investigator prove at the disciplinary enquiry?

Produce the forged document. Ask the accused employee if they have any explanation. Emphasize the seriousness of the offence, stating that it could lead to criminal charges. Give evidence from your notes on any interview you held with the doctor of their receptionist.

Emphasize that the employee’s action has broken the trust relationship and has compromised the continuance of the employment contract. Produce any evidence found in the employee’s file of suspected abuse of sick leave or excessive sick leave, or even unacceptable attendance.


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