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Sick notes for sale… Flying off the shelves

published by Dr Kamela L. Mahlakwane - NEWS24 - 7 February 2015

Unemployment remains one of the highest contributing factors in the health burdens of our communities. Without unemployment, poverty is almost non-existent. Every time one drives down town, there is always a lot of scary-looking unemployed people on the road side, seeking for jobs… or begging for simple food to fill their stomachs. Being jobless/ penniless is the situation that I’d never wish for anybody… I’ve been there before. Trust me, it ain’t fun. Weird, though, quite a number of employed people do take their jobs for granted. Quite a lot of us, privilegely employed black folks, hardly take our jobs seriously. Painfully, a lot of us who do so are employed but, frankly, unemployable. One of the most common human disease that I almost always come across in my daily duties, which is unfortunately not even listed anywhere in the medical literature, is called “sick note syndrome”, also known in street terms as “sika malanga” This is the only sickness that is only found in employed people. All unemployed people and self-employed people are immune from this disease. It is the only sickness the treatment of which is a simple paper… THE SICK NOTE. It can never be cured, unless the sufferer looses his/ her job. This disease is very common on Mondays, Fridays, month-ends, a day before or after a public holiday, a day before or after a big event, and during festive seasons. Just a little of education: Sick note is a legal document, and therefore, requires nothing but the whole truth. It is a legal document confirming & limited to medical facts ONLY, purely based on the practitioners’ own questioning and examination. It must be issued by the practitioner who establishes facts in person. It is completely truthful; it is guaranteed by the practitioners’ conscientiousness and faithfulness, and certified by a signature and identification. Unfortunately, fraudulent use of sick notes is rife. However, the following are the only valid reasons why a doctor or any healthcare practitioner should issue a sick note to an employee: If; The employee is so sick that he/she cannot work The employee cannot physically be at work, solely for medical reasons. Health management of the employee requires rest The employee may be risk to others if left to perform his/ duties. Work may aggravate the illness Health management impairs work attendance There are only two types of medical certificates of illness: A certificate issued as a result of personal observations by the practitioner during an examination A certificate issued as a result of information which has been received from the patient and which is based on acceptable medical grounds Not all healthcare professionals can issue the sick certificate, though. Only the following personnel have authority to do so: – A medical practitioner/ doctor – Any other person who is certified to diagnose and treat patients, and who is registered with a professional council established by an Act of Parliament A sick note may be questionable if any of the following is suspected: – The sick note does not confirm an established medical fact – The sick note is not produced by the practitioner who establishes the facts in person – Practitioner recommends an unreasonably long/short period of sick leave – Fraud – When the sick note is illegible – When the format of the sick note does not conform to Professional Council standard Healthcare practitioners can be severely disciplined, and most likely loose their jobs and/ or licence to practice, if found to be issuing sick notes for any reasons other than medical facts. Employees may also suffer the repercussions of receiving fraudulent sick notes. SO, BAF’WETHU, BE WARNED!!


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