“Particularly with the liberal attitude which the Labour Code has taken. Basically with sick leave, anybody can call for two days without a doctor’s visit and you must pay them for the two days. They can do that for twelve days a year. So if employees decide to use this facility under the Labour Code that could lead to serious loss of hours and lack of productivity.” – Joseph Alexander, Executive Director, EMPLOYERS’ FEDERATION. Interview on Choice News Now (MAY 30, 2014, with a repeat on MAY 31, 2014)
Dear: Mr. Joseph Alexander,
I heard you yesterday and gave you the benefit of the doubt. “I heard the wrong thing”, I told myself, so I awaited the rebroadcast. Sir, the way you have represented the Labour Code in your interview is dishonest. I say dishonest, because I know that you know what you speak of is not as a consequence of legislation enacted to protect our workers.
I accept that chikungunya will impact the workplace and can cause the cost of operating a business to be high, due to absenteeism. This is a serious concern. I accept too, that there may be employees who will use this as an opportunity to abuse the allowance of two days sick leave without the need to produce a medical certificate (I think they are the minority). What I have difficulty with, is your statement that this issue is PARTICULARLY because of the “liberal attitude” of the Labour Code to sick leave.
Sir, the Labour Code became law in August 2012. You know it has been common practice from time immemorial to allow two days of sick leave without documents from a doctor – the reasons I will not delve into. Why would you create the impression that this was introduced by the Labour Code? What the Labour Code did was legislate what was the acceptable practice from since when Jesus was baptised.
If you have a discomfort with this provision, just say so. If one of the reasons the Code remained in limbo for five years is because your organisation lobbied to reduce the required days from 2 to 0, just say so. However, it is dishonest to pin the issues of productivity/sick leave on the Labour Code.
The very same Labour Code that allows for 12 days sick leave a year without a medical certificate says, ” Where an employer reasonably believes that any purported sick leave, no matter how short, forms part of a course or pattern of absenteeism and is an abuse of sick leave provisions under this Code, he or she may require an employee to furnish him or her with a medical certificate.”
Is that a liberal attitude that facilitates delinquency?
Why didn’t you speak of the doctors who issue sick leave documents indiscriminately? Well, why would you – the Employers’ Federation cannot blame the private sector for anything. Why didn’t you appeal to the workers to be honest and respect and value their jobs, PARTICULARLY because people are losing theirs worldwide? Well, why would you? -that may be seen as a “threat or an attack” on the worker? Blame the Labour Code, so those who do not know better will believe you and/or blame the government!
You may think I am targeting you, but I am not. It just irks me when I hear the policies of the Labour Party are being used as scapegoats. If there is a problem of abuse it is not as a result of the Labour Code, because I am sure it did not start in 2012. It is about our work ethics. Blame the workers, blame the doctors, not the Labour Code! Besides, 95% of us work even when we are sick. Do not attack the Labour Code in the name of the 5% ( I am not referring to wage cuts, I speak of workers). Ask your members to apply the law. Ask for the certificate if you notice abuse or a trend and just fire them if you are right. There are thousands waiting to be employed.
I hope you understand where I am coming from. Please note that this is not connected to your recent flip flop on how the Government should deal with the high wage bill (pro retrenchment one week and anti wage cuts the next). I simply wanted to register my displeasure with the way the Labour Code was presented in your interview. We must be forthright in our discussions!
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