DUBAI // Doctors have been caught issuing fake sick notes to government employees to allow them to take their full 90-day allowance of sick leave. The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has revoked the licences of two doctors who signed more than 1,000 sick notes each for civil servants without genuine reasons. Patients are usually charged Dh100 (US$27) for each note. The problem has led to the creation of a new general medical committee that will scrutinise all sick leave taken by such workers.
Essa Kazim, director of DHA health regulation, said strong action against doctors was already helping reduce the illegal practice. "We have already cancelled the licences of doctors for issuing unjustified sick notes, and I am not talking about one or two notes. "In some cases it was in the thousands, because each sick note is chargeable. We see this a lot but it is decreasing since we have taken firm action."
According to labour laws, employees who pass their probationary period and have worked for more than three months are entitled to up to 90 days of sick leave per year. They receive full pay for the first 15 days, half pay for the next 30 days, and no pay for the rest. Government departments will now have to provide details to the medical committee about their employees' sick leaves to make it easier to spot suspect sick notes.
The Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department alerted the DHA of two clinics issuing illegal notes after they noticed patterns in their workers' sick leave. Once such an alarm is raised with the DHA, the committee will be sent to investigate the claims. It will send its findings and recommendations to another committee, which will then decide what action should be taken against the doctor.
"Issuing false sick notes is not only illegal but it affects the community, the work force, productivity and society," Mr Kazim said. "It may seem trivial but it can have quite significant implications." The cost of a sick note can differ between clinics but an average price is believed to be about Dh100 for government employees. Many clinics, when contacted by The National, said notes were free for non-government workers.
Sandy Khan, a human resources consultant in Dubai, said falsely taking sick leave hurts morale of those left at work as they picked up extra duties. She also said that having staff continually taking false sick leave had a long-term impact, affecting staff training among other things. firstname.lastname@example.org