The PSA and the Pharmacy Guild have released the updated Absence from Work Certificates Guidelines for Pharmacists
Originally developed by PSA and the Guild in 2008 and revised in 2011, the guidelines have been further updated to provide greater clarity and guidance for pharmacists.
The 2018 guidelines re-iterate that a pharmacist must define their own scope of practice as stipulated by the Pharmacy Board of Australia and consider issuing certificates within this scope of practice.
PSA National President Dr Shane Jackson said the updated guidelines provide further guidance on the framework pharmacists should work within when providing these certificates.
“They offer pharmacists clarity on duration of document storage, number of days to issue certificates, and how to handle non-face-to-face requests for certificates,” Dr Jackson said.
The National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, George Tambassis, said: “More and more people in the community are becoming aware of the availability of absence from work certificates provided by their local community pharmacist, so it is very timely that the guidelines have been updated so that pharmacists can refresh their understanding of the scope of this service.”
The guidelines feature updated terminology and references, as well as a sample information sheet about this service, highlighting that the responsibility lies with the employee to check with their employer about accepting a certificate from a pharmacist.
Absence from work certificates attracted controversy earlier this year when Innex Wilox, chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, claimed that “some bosses would be sceptical of notes obtained from a chain store pharmacy”.
$20 Chemist Warehouse certificates came in for particular scrutiny from mainstream media.
In April, the Guild’s NSW Branch reminded patients that they could make use of pharmacy issued Absence from Work Certificates if they could not get to their doctor easily.
And in July, the New Daily reported on a viral post which appeared to highlight that few Australians knew about the service, querying whether it was “too easy” and quoting AMA president Dr Tony Bartone, who called such notes a “glorified document” and a “missed opportunity” for continuous health care.
At the time, a Guild spokesperson reiterated that pharmacists have been able to issue absence from work certificates since 2009.
“There’s a pattern to it: every six months or so a new mainstream journalist finds out about this, and writes about it as if it were a brand new thing,” they told the AJP.