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Monday, March 22, 2010

Medical certs governed by law

I REFER to “Asst medical officers allowed to issue MCs” (The Star, March 19) which appears to be a response to “Headache over invalid sick leave certs” (The Star, March 12), “Check on issuance of MCs” (Sunday Star, March 14) and “Medical Act on leave certs not adhered to” (The Star, March 17).

I am shocked and amused by the explanation by the director of the Health Ministry’s Medical Practice Division, Dr Noraini Baba, that government assistant medical officers are allowed to issue medical certificates on three conditions by virtue of a circular dated January 2007 issued by the director-general of the Health Ministry.

My question is: Is the circular a gazetted law that is enforceable in a court of law and binding on human resources practitioners?

Let me make it easy and answer that question.

In 1989, the Industrial Court in Oriental Acrylic Dyeing Works Sdn Bhd vs the Penang and Seberang Prai Textile Workers Union (Award 244/89) held that Section 60F of the Employment Act 1955 covers only sick leave issued by a medical officer (government doctors) or a registered medical practitioner or a dental surgeon as defined under the Dental Act 1971.

With due respect to Dr Noraini, it is not a question of “… assistant medical officers were well aware of their responsibilities and were ethical …” but it is a question of law.

Section 27 of the Medical Act 1971 clearly and explicitly disallows assistant medical officers or anyone else other than a medical officer or a registered medical practitioner from issuing medical certificates. Period.

I urge the Health Ministry to take cognizance of the provisions of the Medical Act 1971 and The Employment Act 1955, and cease the unlawful and illegal practice of permitting assistant medical officers to grant sick leave certificates.

It is clearly a classic case of misrepresentation which can lead to unnecessary conflicts between employers and employees.

As for me, I will reject medical leave certificates which are not issued in accordance with the law.


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