“Sick leave” making you SICK?


It appears that employers are “sick” of sick leave.  Whilst some employees are genuinely sick, some tend to abuse this entitlement.

Like any other form of leave, sick leave is also regulated by The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (hereinafter, BCEA or the Act).  Chapter 3 of the BCEA regulates leave and s22 and s23 specifically deals with sick leave and proof on incapacity, respectively.

During every sick leave cycle (36 months) an employee is entitled to an amount of paid sick leave equal to the number of days the employee would normally work during a period of six weeks. An employee who works 5 days per week is entitled to 30 days sick leave and one that works 6 days a week is entitled to 36 sick leave days.

“Sick leave cycle” means a period of 36 months employment with the same employer immediately following (a) an employee’s commencement  of employment or (b) the completion of that employee’s prior leave cycle.  During the first six months of employment an employee is entitled to one day sick leave for every 26 days worked.

Employees do not have to bring medical certificates in order to be paid if they have been absent from work for NOT more than 2 days unless such absence is repeated twice within an eight week period.  The employer does not have to pay the employee if the  employee has been absent from work for more that 3 consecutive days and does not produce a valid doctor’s notice.

Nothing in the Act prohibits an employer from phoning the doctor who allegedly attended to the employee should he/she suspect some form of deception/fraud with the doctor’s note.

Employers should look out for those sick notes that state that “the Doctor was informed that the employee was unfit for work.” The letter has to say that in the doctor’s professional opinion the employee was unfit for work on the specified dates and also indicate when the employee is expected to be fit to resume his duties. The employer is also allowed and encouraged to verify the status of the doctor with the medical council.

Should it transpire that the employee lied about his illness or that the employee faked a doctor’s note, then disciplinary steps may be taken.

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