Work Capacity medical certificate - Information for health practitioners

The evidence is compelling: for most individuals, working improves health and wellbeing and reduces psychological distress. (Ref P.7 The Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and The Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Australian and New Zealand Consensus Statement on Health Benefits of Work, May 2011)

Purpose of a Work Capacity medical certificate

To assist people into suitable work, Work and Income needs to understand the impact of their health condition, injury or disability on their ability to work. The Work Capacity medical certificate is designed to gather this information. It asks:

  • the barriers and/or limitations to work (including any non-medical barriers or limitations)
  • diagnoses (using READ codes) that impact on a person's ability to work
  • if a person's work capacity is expected to change and, if so, how and when
  • the support or accommodations that could help a person to work
  • the hours a person could work in a suitable role if they receive the support needed when a person's work capacity should be reviewed.

A medical certificate doesn't affect whether a person is eligible for financial support from Work and Income. Rather it provides information that helps Work and Income decide which benefit is most appropriate, and whether or not a person will be required to look for suitable work (full or part-time).

Most people with a health condition, injury or disability can work with the right support. This benefits them, their family and the wider community.

  • Indicating support or accommodations needed

    Please tell us if there's anything you think would make a difference to a person getting into and successfully holding a job. For example:

    • flexible hours
    • specific equipment
    • workplace modifications
    • social skills training.
  • Suitable work

    The information provided on the medical certificate, together with other client information including a self-assessment, will enable Work and Income to identify the types of jobs that could be suitable for a person. This will take into account a person’s individual circumstances, including any limitations, and the support they need.

    As well as health conditions, injuries or disabilities, Work and Income considers things like literacy levels, child care needs and transport availability in deciding if a job is suitable for a person.

  • How often does a person need to give Work and Income a medical certificate?

    The medical certificate allows you to indicate an appropriate review period based on your clinical assessment.

    The legislative requirements for the Jobseeker Support benefit mean that medical certificates can cover a maximum of 4 weeks for the first 8 weeks, and then up to a maximum of 13 weeks subsequently.

    There are exceptions for:

    • people who have a job to return to (initial medical certificate may cover up to 13 weeks)
    • people who are more than 27 weeks pregnant (medical certificate may extend to four weeks after due date).

    People for whom the impact of their condition on their ability to work is long-term and severe are likely to get the Supported Living Payment benefit. The review period for this group is two years or never.

  • Completing a Work Capacity medical certificate

    You must be sure the information you're providing is professional, true, accurate and consistent with the MCNZ guidance on completing medical certificates. It would be prudent to keep a copy of the certificate.

    The medical certificate can be completed through practice management systems. Alternatively, pads of hard copy forms are available from your Work and Income Health and Disability team.

    The certificate can be completed by a:

    • registered health practitioner eg:
      • nurse practitioner (not practice nurse)
      • midwife where a person is more than 27 weeks pregnant or has complications due to their pregnancy
      • dentist (for dental-related conditions).

    The client number is a 9 digit number printed at the bottom left on your patient's Community Services Card. If you add the number to the patient's details page, it will self populate each time.

    Image of Community Services Card
  • Sending Work Capacity medical certificates to us

    Information

    You can send Work Capacity medical certificates (WCMC) to Work and Income electronically through a secure network using HealthLink's HISO online forms.

    • If you are using e-Lodgement you will receive a confirmation message within a few seconds that it has been received. Please let your patient know that their WCMC has been sent to and received by Work and Income.
    • For more information on using the HISO forms, a video guide and quick start guides are available at www.healthlink.net/workandincome
    • If for any reason the WCMC cannot be sent electronically please print a copy for your patient and ask them to take it to their local Work and Income Service Centre or Community Link.
    • If you are using a hard copy, keep a copy for your own records then give the original to the patient and ask them to take it to their local Work and Income office.

    Please note: Only WCMCs using HealthLink's HISO online forms can be sent to Work and Income electronically.

  • How Work and Income uses the information on the medical certificate

    Where appropriate, Work and Income will ask the person to complete a self-assessment so we can learn more about their skills, the type of work they'd like to do and what they believe their barriers to work are.

    The medical certificate and other relevant information will be used to help decide the type of benefit a person gets and if a person should have work obligations (be required to look for suitable full or part-time work).

    For people with work obligations, the case manager will develop a plan with the person and work with them to put it into action. Some people may be supported by third-party organisations contracted by Work and Income.

    People on the Supported Living Payment benefit are not expected to look for work, but if a person wishes to work, they can complete a self-assessment and develop a plan with a case manager.

  • Contact us

    For more information:

    • contact your local Health and Disability team at your nearest Work and Income regional office
    • call us on 0800 559 009
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