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The great Eid ‘sick’ leave in Oman
July 13, 2015 | 8:56 PM
by ELHAM POURMOHAMMADI and FAHAD Al GHADANI
 
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Muscat: Where will you be next Tuesday and Wednesday? Will you be at your desk working, or will you be ‘ill’ as many workers are expected to be.

The return to work between the end of the Eid holidays and the next Thursday’s day off to celebrate Renaissance Day has caught many employees by surprise, with scores already booked on flights and holidays for the entire week.

The solution? Many workers are expected to fake illnesses to cover their absence. However, the Ministry of Health told Times of Oman that it has put in strict rules to control doctors from issuing sick leave certificates to those trying to con their employers.

Dr Ahmed Hamed Al Wahaibi, senior consultant in Family Medicine at the Ministry of Health, said that there are tight regulations and criteria regarding sick leaves, already in place and driving down the issue in general, but there are some exceptions among doctors.



He said that health centres are required to send a report of the sick leaves issued to the authorities concerned for countersigning, and monitoring mechanisms are in place.

If it turns out that they have flouted the regulations, they will be issued warnings, which if ignored, may lead to the termination of their contract with the ministry, said Dr Al Wahaibi.



He also advised people not to apply for unnecessary sick leaves and instead use their emergency or annual leaves.

Dr Munnu Zain Jessim, a general practitioner at Atlas Hospital, says that they are receiving many requests for sick leave.

Some may be genuinely sick but some may be requesting them to travel or be with their family during the holidays or for other reasons, she said.

Sometimes they insist that the doctor must issue a sick leave certificate when they are not really sick and it is difficult to argue with them, added Dr Jessim.

She said that she had come across people who had demanded sick leave and refused injections saying that they were fasting, but were later seen roaming around.

According to her, the hospital is very strict in handling this issue and does its best despite the fact that sometimes it is difficult to figure out who is telling the truth and who is lying.

“What we do is that we tell them if they are sick, they will be given complete treatment, including injections and tests,” she said, adding, “They are also told that if they are very sick, they will be referred to another medical professional.”

Also, there are people who take leave first and then visit the doctor to get sick leave signed, said Dr Jessim.

“For such people, we do not issue sick leave at all,” she noted, and added that the practice of seeking unnecessary sick leave also creates trouble for employers.

In addition, Dr Jessim said that the hospital keeps a copy of sick leaves issued as a record to avoid any problem and also submits the list to the authorities concerned on a monthly basis.

Sultan Ali Al Busaidi, managing director of the United National Oilfield Services (UNOS), said that he had made it clear to employees before the announcement of the holidays that no sick leave would be accepted for those particular dates and if any one applies for sick leave, it should be supported with sufficient documents.

Instead, they were asked to apply for an official leave or agree for deduction from their annual leave, he said.

“That would give me an idea of how many people would like to go on leave so that I could plan my staff shortage accordingly rather than suddenly receiving a call from an employee,” said Al Busaidi.

There are many people who would like to take leave, but they have to understand that sometimes they have to make a sacrifice for the sake of others, he added.

Al Busaidi said that this year part of the issue has cropped up due to the gap in Eid and Renaissance Day holidays.

“In my opinion, if I have an employee from a remote place, it is not fair to bring him for one day and they let him go again,” he noted, adding that it also puts the lives of workers at risk if they have to drive long distances frequently.

P Chandrasekr, group general manager, Jawad Sultan Group of Companies, said that so far he has not faced this problem and has not received any sick leave for this period.

“However, I do not know whether after the holidays people will come and give their sick leave,” he said.

He added, “My observation is that on these two days, we might face some difficulty because people may not be there as some have already got approval for leave and may be travelling. So, those people will not change their programme for the sake of two days.”

Some had already booked their tickets and their calculations went wrong after the announcement, he said.

Chandrasekr added that taking fake sick leave is ‘wrong’ and called for ‘disciplinary action’ while advising people to use other types of leave if they are unable to change their plans.

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