Medical certificates – employer's duty

The EAT decision in Taylor v Merseyrail Electrics serves as a reminder that employers are not entitled to go behind what appears on a medical certificate in the absence of contradictory medical evidence.

Facts

In this case the employer withheld sick pay, even though the employee had produced sick notes, relying on a clause in her contract that said “Payment [of sick pay] may also be withheld if there is any doubt that the absence is due to other than health or personal accident which prevents the employee from undertaking any duty which they are competent to perform”.

The EAT held that on the facts, the employer had initially been entitled to express doubt as to the reason for the employer’s absence. However, after the GP certified the employee’s absence from work, the initial doubt should have been removed.