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Here's what to do when you find out your employee's medical certificate is a fake

by , 14 April 2014
Unscrupulous doctors who issue fake medical certificates contribute to the sick leave abuse problem in South Africa. That's why you SHOULD NOT accept your employee's medical certificates at face value. Scrutinise it and if you find it's fake, do the following so you can curb sick leave abuse in your company.


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If you find out your employee's medical certificate is false or has been altered, treat this as serious misconduct

The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service explains that if, after you've investigated, you find out the medical certificate is false or has been altered, you MUST discipline your employee for misconduct.

The first way to do this is to charge your employee with dishonesty because he willfully lied to you when he produced a false or altered medical certificate. You can also charge him with fraud because he produced the false or altered medical certificate to get sick pay to which he wasn't entitled.

For both charges, you need to prove he knew the medical certificate was false or altered.

You can draw conclusions from other proven facts or by cross-examining your employee to expose contradictions or inconsistencies in his version of events.

You can also get a copy of the correct original certificate from the doctor and prove the one your employee gave you had been altered.

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If you want to curb sick leave abuse, keep these three points in mind when it comes to medical certificates

  1. Your employee's medical certificate doesn't have to disclose the nature of the illness. It can merely state 'medical condition'. The medical certificate provided it meets all the other requirements, will then still be valid.
  2. Only accept medical certificates that say your employee has been 'examined' by the medical practitioner. You don't have to accept certificates that state that the medical practitioner was 'informed' of the employee's illness.
  3. Ensure the certificate states your employee was incapacitated and for how long he'd be absent from work.

The bottom line: 'Sick leave abuse costs the economy billions of rands annually,' warns Labour Wise.

The site says 'the fact that some medical practitioners collude with employees makes them accomplices to this. [And] While there are options open for taking doctors who are guilty of this to task, prevention is the best option – and that entails putting in place effective sick leave abuse policies and prevention systems.'

So never rely on a medical certificate handed to you by your employee. Check if it's authentic. And it it's not, discipline your employee for misconduct.

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