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7 Vital questions about sick leave over holiday periods....

by , 02 April 2013
Did you see an increase in the number of staff calling in sick over this holiday period? Are you expecting a flurry of sick notes from them because they were absent on the working days that fell amidst all the public holidays?

We receive a lot of interesting questions about sick leave...  Questions that are probably on your mind too!

Let's have a look at them…


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7 Vital questions about sick leave over holiday periods….

1.    How much sick leave is an employee actually entitled to?
If an employee works five days a week, he's allowed 30 days paid sick leave in three years. If he works six days a week, he's entitled to 36 days paid sick leave in 3 years.

2.    What proof is needed for sick leave to be paid?
You don't have to pay an employee for sick leave if he's been absent from work for more than two consecutive days or on more than two occasions during an eight week period and, at your request, doesn't give a sick note (Section 23(1) of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997 ('the BCEA').

3.    Does the sick note have to tell you the nature of the illness?
No. It's enough for the medical practitioner to say 'medical condition' on the sick note. The employee doesn't have to disclose the nature of the illness to you and you can't insist on such information being provided.

4.    Who can issue sick notes?
A sick note may only be issued by a medical practitioner who's certified to diagnose and treat patients, and registered with a professional council established through legislation.  

There's talk about traditional healers being allowed to issue sick notes, but this hasn't been passed yet.

Keep reading for another three questions…


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5.    What if the sick note says: 'I have been informed that Patient X has been unfit for work on 28 March 2013'?
The medical practitioner has to make the diagnosis himself. If the sick note says this, it means the medical practitioner hasn't diagnosed the patient and hasn't given a medical opinion on whether the patient was fit for work or not. Basically your employee told him that, in his own opinion, he was too sick to come to work. You can reject this sick note.

6.    Can you question the reliability of a sick note and reject a sick note?
Yes. If the circumstances around the sick note are suspicious, you can question the reliability of it. You can investigate the sick note by contacting the medical practitioner in question and ask your employee to go to your recommended doctor.

7.    Can you start an 'abuse of sick leave process' before the sick leave entitlement's expired?
Yes. This process can be started at any time when abuse is suspected. It doesn't matter if the employee still has sick leave left. Sick leave isn't an entitlement that has to be exhausted, it's a provision for situations of real illness. Sick leave abusers are usually easy to spot. They're usually absent after payday and on Fridays and/or Mondays.

Subscribers to the Practical Guide to Human Resources Loose Leaf can refer to chapter L10 for the 9 steps to manage sick leave. Still not a subscriber? Click here...

Until next time,

Lizle Louw
Editor in Chief: Labour Law for Managers

P.S. Do you have a similar question or query? Visit the Labour and HR Club and ask your question today!

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