Employers: Sick leave hurting business

Employers in Saint Lucia are concerned about the amount of ‘uncertified’ sick leave available to workers.

The Executive Director of the Saint Lucia Employers’ Federation (SLEF), Joseph Alexander, told the Times that according to the Saint Lucia Labour Code, workers are entitled to a maximum of twelve uncertified sick leave days.

Alexander said all that is required is for an employee to say that he or she is unwell.

“The employee decides that he is sick – not a Doctor,” the SLEF official disclosed.

He explained that once an employer is so informed, the employee can stay home for two days at a time without a medical certificate, until the annual twelve days have expired.

“Think of a large company with a thousand employees and everyone takes their twelve uncertified sick days; that would be twelve thousand working days being paid for and no work is being done,” the  SLEF Executive Director told the Times.

Alexander said the twelve uncertified days of sick leave annually to which workers are entitled are in addition to certified sick leave.

“Certified sick leave means that the Doctor gives you a certificate indicating that you are unwell,” he said.

According to the SLEF Executive Director, under existing legislation the employer has to keep paying thirty-five percent of the sick leave pay for three months while the National Insurance Corporation continues paying for another three months.

Alexander expressed the view that the government should review uncertified sick leave.

“Right now it is just too many – twelve in a year; I think  government should bring this down to about six days,” he told the Times.

He observed that under the existing legislation,an employee can actually call in sick once every month.

In terms of certified sick leave, Alexander said he did not think there is much that can be done.

“If somebody comes with a Doctor’s certificate, most probably the person is genuinely sick,” he stated.

Alexander pointed out that the Labour Code allows  twenty-one working days vacation for someone who has worked for over five years.

“So you add twenty-one days to the twelve days of uncertified sick leave and then you also have fourteen public holidays, so you see the situation,” he told the Times.


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