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What is considered sick leave abuse

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You have to take care of yourself. sick? Injured? Your entitled to the time to get better, to recover.. If you have accrued sick leave your entitled to be paid for it Don’t be harassed into returning early to work. You have rights, please read on.

What is considered sick leave abuse

What is considered sick leave abuse has become a real issue in the last few months. Of course employers are never happy when you take sick leave, they never have been. They think you have to be committed like they are, which is seven days a week of course. However with the current issues of employees being off on sick leave due to enforced isolation through the COVID-19 rule and enforcement. Having COVID-19 itself and the mental effects of isolation and stress caused by two years of the pandemic and heading into year three. The calls to us have tripled regarding the way employees have been unfair treated and abused regarding absenteeism and sick leave related issues.

Uncaring employees taking advantage of you

Abuse of sick leave refers to employees who, over a period of time, have “gamed” the employers attendance policy. Exploitation of sick leave policy may range from employees not calling in or not showing up for their shifts, exhausting their available leave every month, and requesting extra time off when well.

Every time there is extra work to be done, knowing its going to be a busy day tomorrow, surprisingly employees are then sick, this places an extra burden on existing staff to carry the extra work. Also in these days of austerity, company’s do not have any spare labor and it falls to existing staff to do the work. Doctors certificates, particularly around the issues of mental health, bullying are more common than 20 years ago.

sick leave rights

Schemes and abuse by employers

This occurs obviously when the employee in the view of the employer is gaming, lying, taking advantage of the the employer, the following are examples.

  1. Insist on doctors certificates every time the employee is away, even for part days to attend appointments.
  2. The employer insist they accompany the employee to the doctor’s, want to meeting with the doctor to discus the illness or injury.
  3. Want to conduct their own assessment in the workplace regarding your injury and ability to perform your duties.
  4. Employers want to get their doctors to examine you, they want access to your medical records.
  5. Constantly tell you your not injured, your just lazy, just get over it, its all in your head, your letting the team down, your not loyal to the company
  6. Encourages co workers to bully you, say there’s nothing wrong with you, we are stuck with doing your work while your away, probably have a good time or rest.
  7. Start giving you menial tasks, stripping away your substantive role, setting triggers to make you resign.
  8. Isolate you from others, indicate to you there is no future, no promotion, we don’t know why your still here.

How Employers react to employees taking sick leave

The list is not exhaustive, but given the amount of calls and emails we receive, daily, weekly, its got some sameness about it, as to how some employers react to sick leave. There are allot of good employers out there who clearly go to exhaustive lengths, far exceeding any legal obligations. Our world at A Whole New Approach is the bad employers where its all about them, staff are numbers, its profits that matter. This is despite the evidence showing if you allow a workforce to be healthy, to recover, to get fit, who have EAP (Employee assistance programs) in place, productivity will increase.

Thankfully, programs to increase the wellbeing of workers have been found to provide significant returns. The Australian Government states that for every dollar invested in the health of workers, on average $5.81 for will be returned in savings.

 Eoghan Mackenna exercise physiologist and director of occupational health specialists, Logic Health,

Sick leave abuse, where to from here

Absenteeism and poor performance are without a doubt two of the most challenging employment management issues that employers struggle with on a continuous basis. Employers become despondent about the impact on productivity and service levels, and increasingly frustrated with employees who are unreliable and cannot be trusted to deliver. Looking for a quick fix when reaching the point where frustration levels become intolerable, is not the answer.   

Judith Griessel Labour Law Specialist, Legal Consultant and Accredited Mediator

You can see from the above statement the appalling stance employers are taking and their advisors are stating. So you can see now why employees Google “what is considered sick leave abuse”. Researching sick leave abuse employers are advised by their representatives to:

A) Look for the lies the employees are giving for the reasons for being ill.

B) Look for the patterns of the days employees are off.

C) Closely monitor the employee.

D) Consider mentioning to the employee that your thinking about hiring a replacement

E) Longer term ill or injured employees considering terminating them.

F) Document missing days

G) Monitor the employees social media, see that their doing after hours

H) Closely examine the medical certificates, have been tampered with, dates changes, different doctors used.

Some employers don’t have a caring bone in their body

Its not just the employers advice, its the tenor of the advice, not a caring bone in the employers body. Why not find out what’s really wrong before commencing these bullying, heavy handed actions. Is there anything wrong with finding out that the employee of 20 years service? Who may have cancer, heart complaints, their partner has dementia and need care or be taken to appointment. Is the workplace culture that toxic that nobody can take 10 minutes out of their day and find out what’s wrong. Understand the status of the employee.

Equally though employees have to give a bit, participate, give the employer required feedback, many employee indicate its their right not to inform the employer what’s wrong with them. That its a matter of privacy, they worry what colleagues will think (I see this particularly around mental health issues) There’s that old saying “sometimes you have to give a little bit, to get allot”

Medical certificate, Dismissed for not having one

If you get abused, you can lodge what’s referred to as a general protections F8C application. In turn the issues go before a member of the Fair work Commission to sort out in the first instance. If your terminated or sacked you can lodge a unlawful dismissal claim F8. or a unfair dismissal claim F2. Be there are strict timelines around lodgments. You welcome to call us and get advice on these processes. Being injured or illness is tough enough without the tactics and carrying on of the employer. Do not suffer in silence, you do have rights.


“what is considered sick leave abuse”, I hope you have found the article informative. We are A Whole New Approach, workplace representatives and advisors. We are at the cutting edge of commentary (look at the blogs, we have written). Fair work Commission decision analysis and debate. Any thing to do with the Fair work Australia, the workplace, we are here for you. unfair dismissal, general protections, workplace investigations. We work in all states, Victoria, NSW, QLD, SA, Tas, WA, NT

Call us for free, prompt, honest advice 1800 333 666

Sick leave, a workplace guide, click here

Medical certificate dismissed for not having one, click here

Working from home (on sick leave), click here

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