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Thread: Dodgy sick certificate / Problem child staff member

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    Dodgy sick certificate / Problem child staff member

    Good day members of TFSA

    Hoping some members in the know would be able to share some advice on a staff issue I have.

    I have a staff member who started working at my company in May 2015. During July 2015 he approached me claiming his mother had passed away in Zimbabwe and he needed to go to Zim for her funeral and would be back in one week. He borrowed R4000 and off he went. A week later he still had not returned. After 3 weeks of him not returning from Zim we sent a telegram to his Cape Town home as well as his home in Zim but had not reply. I personally made a visit to his Cape Town home in the township.There I found his wife and asked what the situation is as he had not returned to work. She informed me he had gone on holiday to visit his mother. ( It turned out his mother had not died but rather he wanted a holiday so lied about the death of his mother and went off to Zim without his wife).

    In light of the info which I obtained from his wife and his absconding from work, we had a hearing in his absence and he was dismissed. All leave pay etc was paid over to his wife as he had left her penniless in Cape Town.

    Two weeks later he arrives at work only to be informed that he had been fired due to absconding for a total over over 5 weeks without communication.

    He begged for his job back and made all sorts of promises and feeling sorry for him I re-employed him on a new contract on 1st September 2015.

    Between 1st September to date he has been absent 5 times and each time has been one day at a time and I have paid him for those day. On Tuesday this week just before lunch time the same staff member caused damage to a customers vehicle due to negligence on his part. I told him to come to my office straight after lunch as we need to have a hearing about his negligence and subsequent damage to a customers vehicle. After lunch he was nowhere to be seen and my receptionist informed that the staff member had come to her saying his house in the local township had being broken into and he needed to go home immediately and had left work without clocking out.

    The same day, (Tuesday this week), I sent another staff member to check at the home of the staff member as to what damage had been done during the alleged break in. On Wednesday morning I was informed that there had been no break in as he had gone to the staff member's home and had seen no damage. A message was sent with the staff member that he was not feeling well and wouldn't be coming to work.

    I immediately called the missing in action staff member and demanded he present himself at work. He did not present himself as I had requested but rather sent a friend with a doctors certificate booking him of work duty from the 25th up to and including the 27th September 2015.

    Clearly this staff member is playing games as he knows he has troubles coming his way in form of a hearing due to damage to a customers car so has played sick and obtained a sick certificate.

    The sick certificate was issued by a township doctor and merely states pain in chest and high blood pressure. (on hearsay from other staff members I was told that the doctor in question will book a patient off work for two to three day provided the patient "pays up").

    I took a close look at the doctors certificate and it looks authentic and besides noticing the address as being in a township, there was no contact landline number and merely a cellphone number hand written next to the doctors name. I have made numerous attempt to call this so called doctor on the cell number provided but it goes unanswered. ( so it seems there is a dodgy township doctor issuing sick certificates at the request of patients). The staff member is 30 years old and was perfectly healthy before disappearing this week.

    Sorry about making this such a long post but needed to include all details and the questions I have and seeking advice on are:

    1. Since the staff member signed his new contract only 81 days have passed. I believe that in the first 6 months of employment since signing the new contract there is one day paid sick leave for each 26 days worked. That would equate to 3.1153 sick days he would be entitled to from 1st September 2015 to date. He has however already taken 5 paid sick days and including the 3 days the dodgy doctor has booked him off would total 8 sick days in the last 81 days.

    Question should I pay him then question it?

    2. I am fuming at this lying staff member playing sick to avoid a hearing due to his negligence and really do not feel I should be paying him to relax at home.

    Question: How do I go about refusing to pay him for these new 3 sick days, which form / line of action should I be taking?

    3.The dodgy doctor who although he may very well be for real is not contactable.

    Question:
    How do I go about questing him as to how he came to his finding to book a perfectly healthy patient off work for 3 days on a claim of high blood pressure. I sincerely think the doctor books people of at their request.

    Any advice that could be offered would be greatly appreciated and anything I may have missed which should follow up and take action which members could add is most welcomed.

    Many thanks

    Tech

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    When no leave is available, you are entitled to treat those additional days absent as unpaid. However, you need to be consistent!

    In your situation, I suggest you need to focus on the real issue and not get distracted by the red herrings.
    And that issue is dishonesty.

    It seems you have sufficient proof of the employee's repeated dishonesty to meet the burden of proof, which is "on balance of probabilities" and not "beyond reasonable doubt."
    This should have led to an irrevocable breakdown of trust by now.

    As the process may result in a dismissal, I also suggest you appoint an independent chairperson to hear the disciplinary. You don't have to, but if you're a little unsure as to exactly how to go about this, it certainly is advisable.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave A View Post
    When no leave is available, you are entitled to treat those additional days absent as unpaid. However, you need to be consistent!

    In your situation, I suggest you need to focus on the real issue and not get distracted by the red herrings.
    And that issue is dishonesty.

    It seems you have sufficient proof of the employee's repeated dishonesty to meet the burden of proof, which is "on balance of probabilities" and not "beyond reasonable doubt."
    This should have led to an irrevocable breakdown of trust by now.

    As the process may result in a dismissal, I also suggest you appoint an independent chairperson to hear the disciplinary. You don't have to, but if you're a little unsure as to exactly how to go about this, it certainly is advisable.
    Many thanks for your reply Dave, all much appreciated.

    I assume the staff member shall be back at work today so intend giving him a notice of disciplinary hear for tomorrow. I tried all day friday to establish if the doctor is registered but with no luck.

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    Platinum Member Mike C's Avatar
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    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.
    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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