skip to navigation skip to content skip to footer

Part 3: Medical absence from duty

5.3.1 Purpose

This Part provides a member with paid time away from duty when they are unfit for health reasons. For a member on continuous service, this time away from duty is a type of leave.

5.3.2 Member this Part applies to

This Part applies to the following members.

  1. A member of the Permanent Forces.

  2. Note: In the total workforce model, a member of the Permanent Forces may be described as a member in Service category 6 or 7.

  3. A member of the Reserves on a period of continuous full-time service.

  4. Note: In the total workforce model, a member of the Reserves on continuous full-time service may be described as a member in Service category 3, 4 or 5 and Service option C.

  5. Subject to the conditions in section 3.2.13, a member of the Reserves who is unable to work due to an illness or injury arising out of their Reserve duty may be provided with benefits in accordance with section 5.3.5 and 5.3.8.

  6. Note: In the total workforce model, a member of the Reserves may be described as a member in Service category 2, 3, 4 or 5.

Note: A Reservist not on a period of continuous full-time service can access the arrangements in this Part only if they meet the additional conditions for eligibility in section 3.2.13. In some cases, the Reservist may be eligible for payment under section 3.2.13.

See: Chapter 3 Part 2 Division 1 section 3.2.13, Reserve member taken to be attending for duty

Note: In the total workforce model, a member of the Reserves not on continuous full-time service may be described as a member in Service category 3, 4 or 5 who is not on Service option C.

5.3.3 How to apply for a medical absence

A member must, where it is reasonably practicable, apply for leave to be absent from duty under this Part using Form AD097 – ADF Leave Application. The application must contain a Form PM101 – Medical or Dental Fitness Advice, if one has been provided.

5.3.3A Telephone health advice for sick members

Defence members who become ill or injured after hours or are not in the close proximity to an On-base health facility can call 1800 467 425 (1800 IMSICK) for assistance. 1800 IMSICK is a national 24 hour call service providing nurse triage and health support for entitled ADF members. This service is provided by Medibank Health Solutions under the ADF Health Services Contract.

Related information: More information about this service is available on the following website:
www.defence.gov.au/health/cotacts/i-imsick.htm

1800 IMSICK is not an emergency number. In an emergency dial 000.

5.3.4 Medical absence without recommendation from a health professional

  1. For the purpose of this section, a supervisor must be at one of these ranks or higher.

    1. Warrant Officer Class 2.

    2. APS 4.

  2. A member may apply to take a day of leave to be absent from duty as a medical absence without providing a medical certificate for that day, if they provide a statement that they are unfit to work on that day for health reasons.

  3. A supervisor may grant a day of medical absence under this section to the member on a day-to-day basis for a maximum of three consecutive days, for a period of illness or injury.

    Note: Each day must be granted separately by the supervisor. An aggregated period of several days of medical absence can only be granted under section 5.3.5.

  4. In relation to the decision under subsection 3, the supervisor may take any of the following actions.

    1. The supervisor may make the decision without the advice of an authorised health professional.

    2. The supervisor may seek advice from an authorised health professional before making the decision.

      Note: Personal or health information directly related to the member must not to be provided without the consent of the member.

    3. The supervisor may at any time direct the member to seek assessment by a health professional, in relation to the reason for the leave.

      Note 1: If medical absence is granted under this section, the direction is to be taken as a condition on the grant of the medical absence.

      Note 2: If medical absence is refused under this section, the direction ensures that the member seeks prompt advice from a health professional, who may recommend a medical absence for the purpose of section 5.3.5.

      Example: The member has been granted on day off by their supervisor without seeing a medical practitioner. The member then contacts the supervisor and tells them that the condition has deteriorated and they need another day off. The supervisor directs the member to see a health professional. The direction makes sure that the member has access to health advice to help them manage any health risks.

    4. The supervisor may decide not to approve the leave.

  5. If the member is being treated under a crisis management plan, the supervisor must only approve leave as recommended by a health professional under section 5.3.5.

5.3.5 Medical absence on recommendation from a health professional

  1. A supervisor may approve a member's application to be absent from duty for a period of one day or more, having regard to all of the following circumstances.

    1. The period of leave that the member has applied for.

    2. Any recommendation of a health professional. This could include recommendations as to the member's care, remaining in a health facility or undertaking follow-up treatment. The supervisor may make the grant of leave conditional on these recommendations being followed.

      Example: A member who is considered at risk by a Defence medical officer has the requirement for a carer documented in their crisis management plan. In the carer's absence the member stays in hospital. The supervisor grants the medical absence conditional on the member following this care plan.

    3. Any other relevant matter.

  2. The supervisor may direct the member to seek further assessment by a Defence health professional, in relation to the reason for the leave. The direction may be given at any time in relation to the grant of medical absence.

  3. Up to three days of absence can be recommended by a health professional who does not provide services for Defence. If the application relates to an absence of more than 3 days, then the recommendation of a Defence health professional is required to support the application.

    Related Information: Regulation 35 of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 requires Defence to identify risks and hazards and to eliminate or minimise any risks to health and safety.

    Having a Defence health professional assess a member in relation to any significant medical absence means that relevant occupational issues and rehabilitation are identified and help is provided promptly.

  4. The Surgeon General Australian Defence Force may direct Defence health professionals as to the maximum periods of medical absence they may recommend, based on their professional qualifications.

    Note: A health professional might advise a member to attend a different class of health professional if a longer period of absence might be required for recovery, to assist continuity of care.

    Related Information: Health Bulletin No 3/2013, Medical Absences – Responsibilities of Health Professionals.

    Notes on disclosure of personal information:

    1. A Defence member may provide written consent for health information to be released to specific individuals in their chain of command.

    2. If the member's consent is not provided, then information can only be disclosed in accordance with the exemptions to the Privacy Act 1988.

5.3.6 Refusal to grant a medical absence

  1. If a health professional has recommended that a member is unfit for duty, the supervisor may only refuse to grant the member a medical absence for the period of unfitness in either of the following circumstances.

    1. There are alternate duties available that a health professional has confirmed that the member is fit to perform.

      Example: The member is recovering from a knee injury and so cannot perform their normal parachute duty and a health professional has recommended they not perform parachute duty. The health professional certifies that they member is able to perform office duties while they recover.

      Note: The alternate duty must be consistent with the obligation to keep the member healthy in regulation 58E of the Defence Force Regulations 1952.

    2. There are no alternate duties that the member is fit to perform and the supervisor has performed a written risk assessment setting out how the risks related to the member's attending for duty can be eliminated or minimised, having regard to all of the following.

      1. The risk to the health of the member.

      2. The risk to any other people.

      3. The risk to operational requirements of the mission for which the member is performing duty.

      4. Any relevant requirement to provide medical or dental treatment to the member under regulation 58E of the Defence Force Regulations 1952.

      Example: A member taking part in a multinational exercise as the member is recovering from a knee injury and so cannot perform their normal parachute duty. A health professional recommends a period of medical absence, however the supervisor considers that the while member is recovering they can perform administrative duties which are critical to the exercise outcomes. The supervisor consults with a health professional to seek agreement that the member is able to perform office duties. The health professional does not agree that the member is able to perform alternative duties. The supervisor performs a written risk assessment, and decides that any risk of further injury to the member is mitigated. The supervisor refuses to approve the medical absence and tasks the member to carry out administrative duties only.

      Note: The risk assessment in paragraph 1.b would require operational imperatives to be weighed against any adverse outcomes to the member or other members resulting from the sick or injured member continuing to work, rather than being placed on medical absence.

  2. A risk assessment made under paragraph 1.b must document all the following matters.

    1. The reasons the recommendation for leave was made.

    2. Any risks to health and safety that may foreseeably arise if the leave is not granted as recommended.

    3. The work-related activities that may involve an increased risk to health and safety in relation to each of subparagraphs 1.b.i to 1.b.iv.

    4. Consultation between the supervisor and the health professional who has recommended the member's leave, or with a Defence medical officer.

  3. A copy of a risk assessment made under paragraph 1.b must be provided to the supervisor's Commanding Officer as soon as practicable after it has been made.

    Note 1: The Commanding Officer may provide a copy of the risk assessment to the Senior Medical Adviser at the regional Defence Health Facility. Information drawn from the assessment may be used at the officer level across Defence to minimise or eliminate risk, consistent with the notes on disclosure of personal information above.

    Note 2: Supervisors and Commanding Officers must be aware of their responsibilities to act in accordance with the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, including the potential for personal liability should a decision not to follow the advice of a health professional lead to further illness, injury, aggravation of injury, medical complication or death.

5.3.7 Granting a medical absence without an application form

  1. A supervisor may grant a period of leave under section 5.3.4 or section 5.3.5 for a member who has not made a formal application, if both the following conditions are met.

    1. The supervisor has regard to any statement from the member, a person who is responsible to care for the member while they are unfit for duty, or a health professional.

      Note: An absence of more than three days should only be approved with the recommendation of a Defence health professional.

      See: Subsection 5.3.5.3, Medical absence on recommendation from a health professional

    2. The supervisor is satisfied that the member is unable to formally apply for leave to be absent under this Part within a reasonable period due to their unfitness for duty.

  2. If a supervisor grants leave without a formal application from the member, they must create a record of the grant of leave, in accordance with the process set out in section 5.3.8.

5.3.8 Administrative requirements for granting a medical absence

  1. When a supervisor under this Part has made a decision to approve or refuse a member a medical absence, they must notify the member or their nominated representative of the decision as soon as possible and take the relevant action in the table.

    Relevant action
    Item If a member has applied... then the decision-maker must...
    1. in writing on an application form
    Related Information:
    Form AD097 – ADF Leave Application
    Form PM101 – Medical or Dental Fitness Advice
    1. sight any relevant certificate from a health professional; and
    2. give the decision to the member's unit, which must record the member's medical absence in PMKeyS and file the relevant Form AD097 and Form PM101 (if provided) in the member's leave folder.
    2. and the supervisor refuses to approve the grant of leave under section 5.3.6 give the application, any risk assessment relating to the refusal and a copy of the decision to their Commanding Officer.
    If the member cannot apply for leave... then the decision-maker must...
    3. using a form described in item 1 above within a reasonable period record any decision to grant leave and give the decision to the member's unit, which must record the member's medical absence in PMKeyS and file any subsequent Form AD097 in the member's leave folder.

    Note 1: The member's unit must ensure records are made and kept. It may use an administrator to perform this task, such as the Unit Orderly Room, Military Personnel Administration Centre or Ship's Office responsible for administering the member's leave.

    Note 2: Nothing in this Division limits the situations in which a member may be directed to seek assessment by a health professional. If a member is granted a medical absence of 28 days or longer under this Part, the member's medical employment category may be reviewed.

    Related Information: In some cases the member may need to change to a different employment category or their service may be ended on medical grounds, depending on the extent of their incapacity and their capacity for rehabilitation. This action occurs under the Defence (Personnel) Regulations 2002.

  2. If the supervisor considers the member to be at risk of self-harm and a crisis management plan is not in place, the supervisor must direct the member to seek advice from a health professional.

    Note: The purpose to ensure that any necessary assessment and treatment is started and a medical management plan is put in place, as required by Defence Instruction (General) Personnel 16-26, Management of a suicidal episode in the Australian Defence Force.

5.3.9 Payment of salary and allowances on a medical absence

  1. Any salary, allowance or benefit for which a member was eligible for immediately before a medical absence may continue to be paid during the medical absence as long as the member continues to meet conditions required for eligibility, other than attending for duty.

    Exception: A member of the Reserves who is eligible for salary during a medical absence under section 3.2.13 is only eligible for salary and travel approved under section 9.2.25. The member is not eligible for Reserve allowance for the period of the medical absence.

    See:
    Chapter 3 Part 2 Division 1 section 3.2.13, Reserve member taken to be attending for duty
    Chapter 9 Part 2 Division 5 section 9.2.25, Travel during a medical absence

    Example: Rent allowance continues to be payable to a member of the Permanent Forces who has been living in a rented house and benefitting from regular rent allowance.

  2. To avoid doubt, if the rates of a benefit or contribution that the member is eligible for while on a medical absence change, that change applies in relation to the member.

  3. A member may cease to be eligible for an allowance or benefit during a period of medical absence if they cease to meet a condition required for eligibility, other than attending for duty.

  4. A member's medical absence is conditional on the member only engaging in paid work outside the ADF (as an employee, under a contract or otherwise) if that external work is part of an ADF-approved convalescence or career transition activity.

  5. An absence ceases to be a medical absence if the condition in subsection 4 is not met by the member. No salary or allowances are payable under this Part for the absence and the absence may be an absence without leave.

    Related Information: Section 5.3.10 provides that other forms of leave may not be available if the member is unfit for duty.

5.3.10 Interaction between medical absence and other forms of leave

  1. A member who could reasonably apply for a medical absence because they are unfit for duty must apply for that type of leave and not another form of leave.

  2. A member who is being actively managed on a crisis management plan may access leave under this Part only and must not be required to access their recreation leave or other accrued leave credit while the crisis continues.

  3. If the member is on recreation leave or long service leave at the time they become unfit for duty, the member may apply for a medical absence. If a day of medical absence is granted, the member is to be recredited for the day of recreation or long service leave credit. In effect the medical absence substitutes for the day of recreation or long service leave.

    See:
    Part 4 Division 7 section 5.4.34, Re-credit of recreation leave
    Part 5 Division 2 section 5.5.12, Re-credit of long service leave

    Note: Other rules for recredit of leave for cancellation or recall from leave do not apply in this situation, only the amount of leave credit is returned to the member.

    Exception: If the member is on a period of unpaid leave and claiming pay by accessing any form of accrued leave credit, no recredit of the leave is available for the period of the member's illness or injury. This is because the member's absence is approved as unpaid leave and the accruable form of leave (recreation or long service leave) is being used to supplement the member's income during the period. A period of medical absence is taken not to interrupt the unpaid leave.

    Example: The member attends for treatment at an ADF health facility during a period of maternity leave. The member receives the required treatment but it does not interrupt the maternity leave, or any arrangements the member has made to use recreation leave credits to extend the period of payment they are eligible for during the maternity leave.

5.3.10A Medical absence for a member on a flexible service determination (weeks per month pattern of service)

  1. This section applies to a member on a flexible service determination (weeks per month pattern of service) who is unfit for health reasons.

  2. The member may be granted medical absence during the member's pattern of service.

  3. The member may not be granted medical absence during the member's nonworking period.

    Example: A member has a pattern of service that involves working every other fortnight. A Defence medical officer decides the member should be absent for six weeks to recover from an injury. The member is granted two weeks of medical absence, and continues to be granted leave without pay (flexible service determination) during the next two weeks and then granted two weeks of medical absence.

    Note: Medical absence for a member on a flexible service determination (days per fortnight pattern of service) is treated the same as a member on part time leave without pay – see section 2.1A.3 and section 5.10.15.

    See:
    Chapter 2 Part 1A section 2.1A.3, Member on flexible service determination (days per fortnight pattern of service)
    Part 10 Division 2 section 5.10.15, Effect on remuneration and conditions of service

5.3.11 Travel for medical purposes

Travel costs may be provided in the following circumstances, to assist with medical needs.

  1. If a member must travel to an appointment relating to a medical or dental condition for which treatment is provided under regulation 58E of the Defence Force Regulations 1952, they may be provided with Commonwealth assistance to pay the travel costs. The costs are payable as if the trip was duty travel and any means of travel recommended by a health professional were the most economical means of travel.

    Note: The travel is normally organised by the member's unit.

    Related Information: Information about the costs payable for duty travel is in Chapter 9 Part 5, Payment of travel costs.

  2. If a member leaves hospital to recover or waits to return to hospital, they may be provided with travel costs under section 9.2.25 if a Defence health professional considers that the travel is necessary to assist the member's recovery.

    Example: The member has limited mobility and cannot manage the stairs in their living-in accommodation. Travel costs are approved under section 9.2.25 for the member's journey to temporary accommodation that has no stairs while the member recovers.

  3. The CDF may approve other travel costs if satisfied that the senior medical advisor in the member's region recommends the travel as in the best interests of the member's recovery.

Related Information: Benefits such as assistance with travel costs may also be provided in relation to a member's dependants.

See: Chapter 9 Part 2 Division 5 section 9.2.26, Specialist medical or dental treatment for dependants in remote locations

Persons who can make the decision under paragraph 5.3.11.c on behalf of the CDF:
Commanding Officer or Officer Commanding, not below MAJ(E)/APS 6, in the member's direct chain of command.

Application to Reservists: Yes, on continuous full-time service.



Forms

Copies of forms are available on the webforms system or through the Defence Service Centre.

  • PM101, Medical or Dental fitness advice

I want to know more...

Further info

  • ADF Health & Wellbeing Portal

  • HighRes Department of Veterans' Affairs

  • (These documents are available on the Defence intranet or through the Defence Service Centre.)

  • Health Bulletin No 3/2013, Medical Absences – Responsibilities of Health Professionals
  • Defence Instruction (General) Personnel 16-26, Management of a suicidal episode in the Australian Defence Force

Contact

Defence Health

1800 467 425 (1800 IMSICK)

Defence Service Centre

1800 DEFENCE (1800 333 362)

YourCustomer.Service@defence.gov.au