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Thread: sick certificates

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    sick certificates

    hi all ,

    was wondering if i did the right thing with a employee last week - he did not pitch up for work last monday , sent a med cert with a mate to me on tuesday on it stating that he was booked off for the tuesday and wedensday and promptly returned on the thursday agin to work . i noticed that the cert said he only presented himself to the doc on the tuesday and not on the monday so i did not pay him for the monday , now i have been approached by him and told i have robbed him of a days wages for the monday as he was already suffering from his ilness then already and could only see the doc on the tuesday .

    do i pay him then for the monday ?

    i know the law states you dont have to have a med cert for a friday and a monday but where is the line drawn for a employer to have reasonable doubt that the employee was actually genuinely ill as confirmed by a med practioner for that day ?

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    I would pay the employee for the Monday. if He went to a doctor and advised the doc that he was not at work on Monday & the doc so fit to put him off for Wednesday as well, it would be reasonable to assume he was quite unwell on Monday.

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    ok thanks flaker will do

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    Now open up a file, and keep tabs on the number of sick leave days, ensuring that you keep the certificate in the same folder. Remember a single sick leave day does not require a certificate, but falls under the sick leave never the less. Sick leave is usually 30 days for every 3 years of service. Some employees translate this to 10 days per year, but it is not so. There will come a time where the number of days of sick leave claimed will exceed the 30 days, and bang you no longer have to pay, even if presented with a certificate. What the certificate does in this case, is to ensure that you do not dismiss the person concerned due to absconding

    I am not sure when the sick leave counter is reset, but I would assume it would be at the end of the financial year in question.

    Also make the habit of contacting the medical practitioner and asking questions, this just makes it more difficult for the future for the employee to lie.
    Victor - Knowledge is a blessing or a curse, your current circumstances make you decide!
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    Platinum Member Mike C's Avatar
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    Hi radeonman - here are some notes that I kept when I was responsible for keeping track of this kind of thing. You might find it helpful.


    MEDICAL CERTIFICATES
    (This document is not published nor sold by the South African Labour Guide. It is available free of charge from the Health Professions Council of South Africa.)

    Medical certificates (or 'sick notes' to use the common term) are a source of aggravation to employers.

    What constitutes a 'valid' medical certificate? That is the question.

    The following excerpt from the Ethical and Professional Rules of the Medical and Dental Professions Board of the Health Professions Council of South Africa provides a starting point: (don't worry too much about this mouthful put differently, it means that the medical profession have introduced the following rules with respect to medical certificates)

    Rule 15.(1) A practitioner shall only grant a certificate of illness if such certificate contains the following information, namely:
    the name, address and qualification of the practitioner;
    the name of the patient;
    the employment number of the patient (if applicable);
    the date and time of the examination;
    whether the certificate is being issued as a result of personal observations by the practitioner during an examination, or as the result of information received from the patient and which is based on acceptable medical grounds;
    a description of the illness, disorder or malady in layman's terminology, with the informed consent of the patient:, provided that if the patient is not prepared to give such consent, the medical practitioner or dentist shall merely specify that, in his or her opinion based on an examination of the patient, the patient is unfit to work;
    whether the patient is totally indisposed for duty or whether the patient is able to perform less strenuous duties in the work situation;
    the exact period of recommended a sick leave;
    the date of issuing of the certificate of illness; and .
    clear indication of the identity of the practitioner who issued the certificate which shall be personally and originally signed by him or her next to his or her initials and surname in printed or block letters .

    (2) If preprinted stationery is used, a practitioner shall delete words which are irrelevant.

    (3) a practitioner shall issue a brief factual report to a patient where such a patient requires information concerning himself or herself.

    The above is largely self explanatory. Rule (e) refers to those occasions where, for example, the employee has been off sick on Monday and Tuesday and then on Wednesday he goes along to the Doctor and informs the Doctor that he had flu since Monday and requires a sick note. The Doctor will then normally write in the sick note that "I was informed that the patient etc."

    You do not have to accept this as genuine illness. The Doctor is only telling you that the patient says he was ill. The Doctor is not certifying that he made an examination and is able to confirm the illness.

    You would therefore be perfectly justified in informing the employee that the time taken off will be regarded as unpaid leave and that in future he should visit the Doctor when he falls ill and not after he has recovered from the alleged illness.

    Rule (f) states that the Doctor should give a description of the illness. This may not always be stated, particularly where the nature of the illness, if disclosed, may embarrass the patient.

    If you have extremely good reason, for example if this employee is regularly off sick, then perhaps you could assist the employee in typing a letter for the Doctor authorising him to disclose to you the nature of the illness. Alternatively you could request the employee to go to the Doctor and obtain the information in terms of rule (3).

    Note that in terms of rule (j) the medical practitioner is required to print his name and initials on the medical certificate in addition to his usual signature.

    Regarding medical certificates issued by a clinical hospital, it is normally found that the certificates are not signed by a registered medical practitioner. Every clinic and every hospital has qualified medical practitioners in attendance, and any person who is ill must be examined by such a person.

    An examination by a nurse or other person who is not qualified to carry out examination and diagnosis is not acceptable.

    A certificate signed by a person other than a qualified medical practitioner who is authorised to make such examination and diagnosis is equally unacceptable.

    This means that any certificate bearing an illegible signature and a rubber stamp is unacceptable and in such cases you must insist that the rule (j) be complied with, otherwise you must treat the period of illness as unpaid leave.

    Remember also that the those occasions where an employee takes only one day or two days off sick and of course is not required to produce a medical certificate, those days remain classified as sick leave days and are deductible from the employees sick leave entitlement.
    An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don't. - Anatole France

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    thanks mike c - i printed out your post for my records . unfortunately its become so difficult to be a business owner nowaday's with staff who creat havoc with production by staying out for the reason of having sick leave due to them and not being genuinely ill . i have tried over and over to talk to my staff about saving your sick leave for a genuine illness and not to view it as a few days paid leave - it will come back to bite you in the butt sooner or later ...

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    3 weeks ago i instructed one of my staff to go to the clinic and see the doctor because he coughs ans he is loosing weight. He took 2 days off and returned to work, still coughing.

    Last week he took monday off, when he returned on tuesaday, still coughing and now he has lost his voice. On thursday last week he couldnt work because he was too weak, didnt come to work on friday nor today. When i questioned him about his visits to the clinic he told me he got the results back and was given medication for TB, other staff dont want him back on site because they say he will spread his sickness.

    What are my responsibilities as an employer.

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    Platinum Member Mike C's Avatar
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    Hi ians - I would reckon that only a doctor can say whether the person is fit for work or not. Because TB is infectious, one puts the other workers at risk until the infection is brought under control.

    According to the South African TB control program (of 2000) - People diagnosed with TB should be given at least two weeks of sick leave to allow them to begin their treatment and make an initial recovery.

    After two weeks of treatment, the person should be reassessed by a health worker to determine if s/he can return to work. At this time, most TB patients can return to work without putting their co-workers at risk, as long as they take their treatment regularly. TB patients on correct TB treatment will not infect other people.
    An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don't. - Anatole France

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    Thank mike,

    How do you know if you or any other staff members have been infected by this person, is there a way of getting others tested, before this gets out of control. Being a small operation and working in close proximity to other contractors, this could turn into an absolute nighmare if he has passed it on to others. Someone told me that it could take as long as 2 weeks before we know or start showing signs of the illness. Could we pass it on to our family members.

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    Platinum Member Mike C's Avatar
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    How do you know if you or any other staff members have been infected by this person
    Hi ians. Here is an extract taken from the SA Labour forum. (PS it may be helpful to your staff for you to get a nurse or someone knowledgeable from the dept of health to come and give them a short lecture on TB - what it is, how it is spread, how to recognise it, and how it is treated.)

    How do people get TB?
    The disease is passed on from person to person. When a person who has TB coughs, sneezes or spits, germs are spread into the air from where they can be breathed in.
    Fortunately not all those infected contract TB, in most cases the germs are sealed off in the body and they do not multiply.
    However, if the body's defenses can no longer control the germs, they become active and the person gets TB.

    Who is at risk
    Close contacts of TB patients Children under 5 years
    Persons with diseases like diabetes and AIDS
    Persons who take excessive alcohol, and drug addicts
    Persons with poor nutrition and lack of food
    Persons suffering from stress
    Persons living in poorly ventilated, over-crowded rooms

    What are the signs and symptoms of TB?
    A cough for longer than 2 weeks
    Chest pains
    Tiredness and weakness of the body
    Loss of appetite and weight
    Night sweats, even when it is cold
    Coughing up blood

    How is TB diagnosed?
    Any of the signs and symptoms mentioned may be an indication of the disease. Seek help at your clinic or hospital if you have these symptoms. TB testing and treatment is free.
    The germs are found in the sputum (spit), when tested in a laboratory. An X-Ray done at a clinic or hospital, may show cavities or changes in the lungs.
    A skin test done on children by a nurse or doctor, can be an indication. When a person has been diagnosed as suffering from TB, all children under five years of age that have been in close contact with that person should be examined, so that if necessary they may also receive treatment.

    Treatment of TB

    TB can be cured with little or no complications
    Medication must, however, be started as soon as possible and it must be taken regularly according to the instructions given at the clinic. It takes 6 months for TB to be cured completely, but within 2 weeks of starting treatment, the person will no longer spread the disease. Intensive phase medication is given for the first 2 months, 4 or 5 tablets (depending on body weight) are taken Monday to Friday. Continuation phase medication is given for the next 4 months, 2 or 3 tablets (depending on body weight) are taken Monday to Friday

    Treatment must be completed
    It is a mistake to stop taking medicines when a person feels better. All treatment / medicine must be taken for the full 6 months. If treatment / medicine is missed, the risk of a drug resistant strain of TB is possible. This TB is very difficult to treat and needs more than 18 months of treatment / medicine, with a long stay in hospital.

    It takes a long time for TB germs to be destroyed. If medicines are stopped too soon and without instructions of the nurse or doctor the disease may start all over again.
    An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don't. - Anatole France

  13. Thanks given for this post:

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