July 31, 2008 / 8:08 AM / in 11 years

Australian doctors say fake sick notes bode ill

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australian medical authorities are warning employees against using an online company that is planning to sell fake doctors’ sick notes that would allow Australians and New Zealanders to take more time off.

The notes, available from www.doctorsnotestore.com, cost about A$40 ($38) each and aim to exploit Australians’ fondness for “chucking a sickie”, or taking days off while supposedly ill.

Most companies require workers who take a sick day off to back it up with a medical certificate.

“It is clearly inciting and abetting fraud,” said Wayne Herdy, a doctor and lawyer from the Australian Medical Association in Queensland state.

“It’s a matter that even the police should be looking at,” he told the Australian Associated Press.

The notes are already available in Britain, with delivery promised in 48 hours.

“Explain your time off work or school with our genuine doctors’ medical certificates. Available blank or filled in. Available with or without genuine doctors stamp,” the website says, offering sales to England, Scotland and Wales.

The website says the company also provides notes for Europeans, and for gym-goers to cancel contracts due to illness or pregnancy. The site offers Internet links for medical notes in Canada and the United States as well.

While the products look “extremely authentic”, the company said the notes are meant to be used as novelty items and not for any illegal purpose.

“We are not responsible for misuse of our products. Please use our products with caution and care,” the website says.

Australia’s Daily Telegraph newspaper said the website was started by a real doctor and mostly staffed by Australian backpackers using it to fund travel in Europe.

Sick day fraud costs Australia’s economy an estimated A$10 billion a year in lost productivity, with workers on average claiming 10 days off a year due to illness.

Australian police said they were not investigating the website unless it set up an office in Australia.

Reporting by Rob Taylor, editing by Miral Fahmy

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