By Nico Strydom
Employees are legally entitled to sick leave but misusing it amounts to misconduct and can lead to disciplinary action.
The Basic Conditions of Service Act provides for 30 days sick leave in a cycle of three years. An employee is entitled to six weeks paid sick leave over a period of 36 months. During the first six months in a job an employee is entitled to one day paid sick leave for every 26 days worked.
According to law an employer may require a medical certificate of an employee who was absent for more than two successive days or from a person who is often absent. Employers may also amend a service contract to provide that an employee who is absent because of illness on a Monday or Friday must also submit a medical certificate.
The Basic Conditions of Service Act also provides that employees may take family responsibility leave if their child is sick. However, according to law every employee only has three days family responsibility leave per year.
According to Occupational Care South Africa (Ocsa) absence from work costs the South African economy between R12 and R16 billion per year. On average 15–30% of personnel is absent on any given day, with two out of three of these employees not being really sick.
Misuse of sick leave can therefore cost employers large amounts of money and it also puts pressure on other employees in the company.
Most companies have a sick-leave policy and keeps record of employees’ sick leave in order to identify possible misuse.
Employers will, inter alia, check whether sick leave is misused to extend weekends, for instance an employee who regularly takes sick leave on Fridays or Mondays. The same applies to employees who want to take sick leave just after a holiday or shortly before public holidays. Employers may also become suspicious of an employee who regularly takes sick leave, for which a medical certificate is not required, and the employer will talk to the employee to determine whether he or she does suffer from a sickness that makes it necessary, or whether sick leave is being misused.
The misuse of sick leave amounts to misconduct and the employer can start a disciplinary process against an employee. If a false medical certificate is submitted, an employee can be charged with fraud.
You must therefore not misuse your sick leave under any circumstances and rather use your annual leave if you need a day off.
The South African Labour Guide: https://www.labourguide.co.za/recent-articles/2702-sick-leave-abuse-poor-performance-and-the-disciplinary-code#:~:text=The%20mere%20fact%20that%20%E2%80%9Csick,is%20not%20up%20to%20standard.