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In Article Archive, Private by Barney Jordaan15 Comments

Employees are not necessarily the only ones to blame for the abuse of sick leave in South African workplaces. It is a known fact that some doctors earn an easy fee by issuing medical certificates without examining the employee. Most employers assume that they simply have to accept medical certificates at face value.

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  1. If I as a manager dispute the validity of a sick note and request that the employee goes for a second opinion and the employee refuses, is this grounds for a dismissal.

  2. If an employee is booked of with sick leave but hangs around in town and pubs, can I expect the employee to come back at an earlier date as what the sick note indicate, I am thinking of “unable to work” concept.



    1. Reply to Hannelie: You do not have to accept the medical certificate if you have evidence that the employee is not really ill. I do suggest you contact the doctor who issued the certificate, though.

  3. On pre printed medical certificates you get “According to my knowledge/as I was informed, he/she was unfit for work. Does a Doctor have to delete whichever is applicable. If they don’t specify do we have to accept they were unfit for work.

    1. Reply to Pat: It is a requirement that the doctor specifies that in his/her professional opinion the employee is unfit to work. If this is not done, you do not have to accept that the employee was unfit for work.

  4. i just wanted to know that a psychiatrist can issue a sicknote to a patient who is suffering from a rare pancreas disease

    1. Reply to Morabe: While a psychiatrist is qualified to issue a medical certificate, one would have to establish whether a diagnosis for a pancreatic disease falls within a psychiatrist’s scope of practice (It seems doubtful).

  5. is there a common rule for the number of sick days allocated by a clinic or GP for something like Back pain “the common one” i am receiving sick certificates where the employees are booked off for a week for this “condition”

    1. Reply to Johan: One has the right to question a medical certificate. If you have good reason to doubt the veracity of the certificate, you can either take it up with the doctor and/or insist that he employee goes for a second option with a medical doctor nominated by the company (at the company’s expense).

  6. What about a “professional nurse” at a clinic issuing a sick note that states medical condition? I say this is not a sick note in terms of your article.
    What about an employee that claims to be HIV positive and goes to a cilinic to collect medicine and stays away all day and brings a sick note from the clinic’c nurse?

    1. Reply to Jan Marais: A professional nurse is not a registered medical practitioner who is entitled to issue medical certificates as envisaged by the BCEA. An employee who is absent to collect medicine is not entitled to sick leave.


    1. Reply to Maria: This would be in order if the certificate complies with the relevant requirements and is signed by a medical practitioner as defined by section 23 of the BCEA.

  8. As first line supervisor I am not a decision maker and find myself having to deal with staff who are clearly abusing the system. Management of the pubblic service department are very reluctant to take the steps as written in this article depsite my having proposed them. The management handbook gives the arequired authority but it is not heeded. At wits end – as I am responsible for production but human resources are stretched because it is required of me to use the performance appraisal system as a punitive measure instead 🙁

    1. Reply to Sylvia: Sorry to hear that. The country needs more people like you to combat the scourge of abuse – keep raising the point – at some point or another someone is likely to take you seriously.

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