Most Allied Health Professionals in Victoria are covered by Enterprise Agreements that allow them to provide a statutory declaration as evidence to access particular kinds of leave. There is a compelling logic underpinning the use of ‘stat decs’ and they are used with some frequently by AHPs. Despite this, many AHPs are not clear on what a stat dec is, and/or how a stat dec works.
What are Statutory Declarations?
In simple terms, a statutory declaration is a written statement that a person signs and declares to be true before an authorised witness. When you sign a stat dec you are explicitly stating that the information contained therein is true.
It is important to note that a statute is a formal law typically passed by a legislative body such as the federal or state parliament, and a declaration is a formal public statement. A statutory declaration is thus a public statement made in accordance with a particular law.
In Victoria there are generally two types of statutory declarations that may be used each premised in a distinct Act:
- A Commonwealth statutory declaration (Statutory Declarations Act 1959 (Cth)); and
- A Victorian statutory declaration (Victorian Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958 (Vic).
How can they be used for employment purposes?
As noted above, Allied Health Professionals can provide statutory declarations for the purposes of accessing particular types of leave. This includes using a statutory declaration to:
- certify illness, injury or that someone is providing care or support to an ill or injured member of their immediate family or household to access personal (sick and carer’s) leave; and
- provide proof of injury, illness or the death of an immediate family or household member to access compassionate leave.
Can I use a statutory declaration in my employment?
Not all employees are able to use stat decs in their employment. The ability to use a stat dec and the circumstances in which you can use a stat dec will be contained in the industrial instrument relevant to your employment. Your industrial instrument is a legally binding document that sets out minimum entitlements for employees covered within its scope—for AHPs this is most commonly an Enterprise Agreement or, less frequently, an Award.
Some Enterprise Agreements limit the number and circumstances in which statutory declarations can be used. Some employers also have policies that limit the use of statutory declarations, though in some cases these policies are inconsistent with what is in the Enterprise Agreement and therefore do not apply, so it is always important to check.
Who can be an authorised witness?
A statutory declaration must be made before an authorised witness. The list of people who may witness a statutory declaration differs for the purposes of Victorian and Commonwealth statutory declarations, though there is a lot of crossover. For example, a Justice of the Peace, a police officer and a pharmacist may witness both Victorian and Commonwealth statutory declarations, but a physiotherapist can only witness a Commonwealth statutory declaration. The Commonwealth statutory declaration contains the list of authorised witnesses on it. The Victorian statutory declaration list of authorised witnesses can be found here.
Despite what some people (and employers) think, the person witnessing the statutory declaration is not confirming that the information in the statutory declaration is true. They are merely confirming that the person making the statutory declaration has signed it in front of them.
Statutory Declarations… be truthful!
Making a statutory declaration that contains false information may have negative consequences.
Under the Commonwealth Statutory Declarations Act 1959, if you intentionally make a false statement in a statutory declaration you can be charged with a criminal offence which carries the possibility of up to four years imprisonment. Under the Victorian Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958 a person who makes a declaration, which the person knows to be false, is liable to the penalties of perjury, which carries a penalty of up to 15 years’ imprisonment.
In addition if you make a false statutory declaration and provide it to your employer, to access personal leave for instance, this may provide grounds for your employer to take disciplinary action against you, which may include termination of your employment.
In short, statutory declarations are a sensible means by which many AHPs are able to access certain types of leave, however stat decs are legal declarations and must be treated with due regard.
Our strong advice is:
- Understand your industrial instrument as it pertains to the use of statutory declarations
- Make use of your entitlement to stat decs, but do so properly and in good faith
- Ensure any declaration you make is truthful
If you have any questions about using statutory declaration in your employment, please contact VAHPA on email@example.com or 1300 322 917.