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Protect your company against sick leave abuse using a sick leave policy template

by , 05 June 2015
You'll probably be confronted with sick leave abuse from your workers if you don't implement a clear sick leave policy. This happens because while employees are entitled to a limited number of days' paid sick leave if they are genuinely too ill or injured to work for short periods, sick leave is also open to abuse.

A sick leave policy provides for both situations: It helps you manage those employees who are genuinely sick and it helps you detect those employees who're abusing their sick leave.

Why you should eliminate the abuse of sick leave

You should know that the abuse of sick leave costs your company a lot of money. Not only do you have to pay the employee for his sick day, you also need to pay any temp workers to fill the gap for the employee that's off from work.

Moreover, abuse of sick leave lowers your production days and ultimately affects your bottom line.

But you can prevent this from happening to you- implement the sick leave policy template in your company today!

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Implement this sick leave policy template in your company today!

Here's a sick leave policy template you can use:

Company Name: ______________________________________________
Employee Name: ______________________________________________

1. Purpose
The purpose of this policy is to set guidelines on how to manage sick leave.
2. Application
This policy applies to all employees, whether appointed on a permanent or temporary basis.

3. Background
Sick leave: employee rights

3.1   In terms of section 23 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, sick leave is linked to a sick leave cycle of 36 months. The first cycle is calculated from the date the employee commenced employment with the employer.

3.2   The number of sick leave days due to an employee in a sick leave cycle depends on the number of days the employee concerned would normally work during a period of six weeks.

Tick the relevant box
❑ if the employee works 5 days per week, he/she is entitled to 30 days;
❑ if he/she works 6 days per week, he/she is entitled to 36 days;
❑ if the employee works 3 days per week, he/she is entitled to 18 days;
❑ if he/she works 2½ days per week, he/she is entitled to 15 days.

3.3   During the first six months of employment, the employee is entitled to one sick leave in a ratio of 1:26, i.e. one day's sick leave for every 26 days worked. 'Day' refers to the number of hours worked in a 24-hour period, e.g. 3, 6, 8 or 9 hours. An employee who works 3 hours a day therefore receives 3 hours of sick leave for every 26 days (78 hours) worked.

3.4   Sick leave doesn't accumulate and starts afresh after expiry of the previous cycle.

3.5   Unless the sick leave is as a result of an occupational injury or disease the employee is entitled to his/her normal wage for work on the day that he/she is absent. Provided:

a. he/she is genuinely too ill or injured to work and can provide proof of that fact if required to do so by the employer; b. if the employee is absent for more than two consecutive days, the employer may insist on a medical certificate as the only proof of illness;

c. the same applies as in (b) above if the employee is absent on more than two occasions in any 8-week period: a certificate may be insisted on for the third and further occasions of sick leave.

3.6   Failure to provide proof of illness when required will result in the employee being regarded as having been absent without leave. He/she will therefore not be entitled to sick pay and also faces disciplinary action.

3.7   Where the sick leave is as a result of an injury at work, the provisions of section 24 of the BCEA, read with the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, 1993 apply.

4. Proof of illness

4.1   Unless the employee has to supply a medical certificate as stated in clause 3 above, proof of illness may be in the form of a prescription from a chemist or clinic; a letter from a family member; or an affidavit from the employee. The company will not unreasonably insist on such proof where absences are of short duration, i.e. two days or less, but reserves the right to do so if the employee is frequently absent for short periods, or the employer has reason to suspect that the employee may be using sick leave without being too ill or injured to work.
4.2   Where a medical certificate is required, the certificate must contain the following information before it will be accepted:

a. name, address, qualifications of medical practitioner (the practitioner, who may be a clinic sister, must be registered with the Health Professions Council of SA)
b. practice number
c. name of the employee
d. date and time of examination
e. whether the certificate was issued after the medical practitioner has personally examined the patient, or is it based merely on what the patient told the practitioner f. it must state that the employee was too sick or injured to work for the entire period of absence
g. the exact period of recommended sick leave
h. the date the certificate was issued

5.3   While the certificate does not have to state the diagnosis, the company reserves the right to reject a certificate that does not indicate that there had been a personal examination by the practitioner.

5.4   Until legislation is passed giving them the status of medical certificates, letters from traditional healers are not sufficient proof that an employee was too ill or injured to work. (Note: employers who often receive requests to accept such certificates are advised to reach an understanding with their employees about the circumstances under which (if any) such certificates will be accepted.)

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6. Employee responsibilities
6.1   Employees may only use sick leave if they are too ill or injured to work. Use of sick leave in any other circumstances is not permitted and will result in loss of pay as well as disciplinary action.

6.2   Employees who are too ill or injured to work, must contact their immediate supervisor personally within the first hour of the start of their work day / shift either by telephone, fax, email or sms. If the supervisor is not available, a message must be left for the supervisor with a request that the employee be contacted.

6.3   Failure to comply with 6.2 is a disciplinary transgression and will be dealt with in terms of the company's disciplinary policy.

6.4   Where proof of absence is required, it must be provided to the supervisor on the day the employee returns to work, or such date as may be agreed with the supervisor

7. Illness during annual leave
If an employee falls ill while on annual, family responsibility or maternity leave, these leave periods will not be extended by the number of days that the employee was ill for.

8. Illness of a child or family member
An employee is not allowed to take sick leave for days on which his/her child is ill.
Family responsibility leave, annual leave or unpaid leave should be applied for.

9. Return-to-work interviews
9.1   The company requires all employees returning from any sick leave to submit themselves to such an interview by their immediate supervisor. Form A will be used for this purpose.

9.2   All supervisors / managers are required to conduct return-to-work interviews with their direct reports and to file a copy of the interview form on the employee's personal file.

10. Sick leave abuse
10.1  Sick leave abuse arises when reason exists for believing that the employee is taking sick leave simply because it is available and not because he/she is genuinely too ill or injured to work. For example, the employee may be frequently absent for short periods for the same or a variety of reasons; or a pattern of absence develops, e.g. absences before and after weekends or public holidays, or after pay days. Because it is unpredictable, this problem has severe consequences for productivity and therefore business.

10.2  Sick leave abuse, as defined above, may result in an employee being dismissed before he/she has exhausted their sick leave.

10.3  To combat the abuse of sick leave, the company has introduced a number of measures:
a. Return-to-work interviews
b..  A 'trigger point', i.e. a standard of acceptable levels of absenteeism which, if exceeded, will result in formal counselling procedures being followed to remedy the problem or, if the problem is not remedied, may result in dismissal for high levels of absenteeism. What this means is that a counselling process will be entered into with any employee who takes more than 10 days sick leave during any 12 month period, or shoe absence shows a pattern as indicated in 10.1 above.
c. The company will from time to time conduct an internal audit of the sick leave taken by individual employees in order to establish whether there are any patterns. Examples of patterns would be where an employee is normally off sick before or after a weekend or long weekend; after pay day, the same day every year etc.
d. All medical certificates will be scrutinised for compliance with the requirements mentioned  above. The company reserves the right to ask for further information or proof of illness from the employee. The company also reserves the right to insist that the employee undergo a medical
examination by a practitioner of the company's choice at the company's expense or, if the employee insists on using his/her own practitioner, then such practitioner must be qualified to conduct the required examination and must be someone other than the practitioner the employee consulted previously for the particular ailment. In this event the employee will be responsible for payment of the practitioner's fees.

Employee signature: __________________________________________

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