HC Deb 08 February 1945 vol 407 cc2198-9
4. Mr. Foster

asked the Minister of Labour if he will consider abolishing the practice by which employers in many districts compel employees to produce medical certificates when off sick for one or more days, for which a charge is made by the doctors, and under which evidence of sickness is not accepted by the magistrates in prosecutions for absenteeism by his Ministry under Essential Work Orders unless supported by medical certificates, or else relieve employees in such cases of the cost of medical certificates.

Mr. Bevin

I have no power to prohibit employers from asking for medical certificates in support of absence. With regard to the charge for certificates, special arrangements have been agreed with employers' organisations, trade unions and the medical profession under which a certificate in standard form can be obtained for one shilling.

Mr. Foster

Is my right hon. Friend not aware that this charge for medical certificates is causing hardship, particularly in cases where the man is on health insurance benefit and is receiving only 18s. per week; and in view of the fact that in many cases the charge amounts to much more than 1s. a week, will he try to assist in this matter?

Mr. Bevin

The question of medical certificates and the charge for them, is really a matter for the Minister of Health. It is dealt with under the National Health Insurance scheme.

Mr. Rhys Davies

Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to consider the very serious problem that arises from the fact that when the average man feels sick, he does not run at once to the doctor, because he hopes to be better again in a day or two; when he is absent from work, the right hon. Gentleman's Department prosecutes him, and when he is taken to court, he is asked for a medical certificate? Will the the right hon. Gentleman not do something in this matter?

Mr. Tom Brown

Is my right hon. Friend aware that some employers of labour are carrying the matter a bit further than the certificate, and are actually asking that the first bottle of medicine shall be taken to the works after it has been received from the doctor? Is that not going a bit too far, after nearly six years of war?

Mr. Bevin

I only hope that the employer takes the medicine.

Sir Herbert Williams

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Minister of Food does even worse?

Dr. Edith Summerskill

Can my right hon. Friend say why employers are not recognising National Health Insurance certificates as evidence of incapacity?

Mr. Bevin

I am afraid that in some cases National Health Insurance certificates are not conclusive evidence either way.