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MISCONDUCT - ABUSE OF SICK LEAVE

Very often, when the absence occurs, it is always on the same day. Typically, the absence would be on a Friday, a Monday, or the day before or the day after a public holiday. Sometimes it would be on payday, or the day before payday as well as payday, or the day after payday.


Whatever the case, there is always a pattern that gives rise to suspicion of abuse of sick leave. Typically, the employer will institute disciplinary action based on unacceptable attendance.


What to look for:

Look for the pattern of the absence – it will be there somewhere. Sometimes, the pattern may exist in the medical certificates.


The medical certificates may always be from the same doctor, but for a different ailment every time – this employee catches every ailment in the book.


Sometimes the medical certificates may always be from a different doctor, but for the same ailment or for different ailments.


The reason the employee goes to a different doctor each time is because they know that if they go to the same or their regular doctor, the doctor will guess that they are up to something and is abusing sick leave.


Thus, the establishment of the pattern is vitally important.


Check their personal file for previous counselling sessions for the same reason – and what was the outcome of any such counselling sessions?


Make a note of the previous dates of absence and the reasons for it.


Even check back on the sick leave usage for the previous sick leave cycle and prepare the charge sheet.


What must the investigator prove at the disciplinary enquiry?

Present the case history of absenteeism.


Show that the employee consistently takes useful sick leave allowance every year. Present the evidence of the pattern in the present leave cycle. Establish justification for your investigation by presenting evidence of sick leave usage in the previous leave cycle, which shows exactly the same pattern. Prove that the absence is a recurring problem.


Present the results of any counselling sessions and the results of any discussions you had with their doctor or doctors. Establish also that the frequent absence constitutes a breach of contract. Show or emphasize that people are employed to come to work – they are not employed to be absent on a frequent basis.


Emphasize that frequent absence – or abuse of sick leave – goes to the very core of the employment relationship – it is a fraudulent absence. Emphasize also that any employee is allowed sick leave only if they are sick – if they are not sick, then they are not entitled to receive paid sick leave.


Thus, to claim paid sick leave when one is not actually sick is a fraudulent action on the part of the employee.



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