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Tuesday, July 5, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesANDREWS SAYS ABUSE OF SICK LEAVE A BIG PROBLEM

ANDREWS SAYS ABUSE OF SICK LEAVE A BIG PROBLEM

The territory's doctors have been asked to be "more responsible in the issuance of certificates of illnesses" for government workers.
A joint statement Wednesday by Attorney General Iver Stridiron and Karen Andrews, chief labor negotiator, said, "We have determined that certain physicians contribute to the problem (of a financially cash strapped government) by providing certificates of illness in a cursory and often irresponsible fashion."
Andrews said Thursday that she sent a request to all department heads earlier this year asking about the three biggest obstacles they face.
"The one prevailing issue was abuse of the sick leave policy," Andrews said.
It is a particularly difficult issue at a time when the government cannot hire more employees.
"We can't plan for the workforce," she said. "We have to have all our bodies."
One area that has always been problematic is the Education Department. In a 1996 series on education done by Melvin Claxton for the Daily News, Claxton said one in 10 teachers was absent every day. Andrews said that was still true.
Most government employees receive four hours of sick leave for every pay period in which they have worked 80 hours, according to Andrews.
A doctor's certificate is generally required after an employee has been absent three days or more.
However, "If you have an abuser, you can request it (a doctor's certificate) at any time," Andrews said.
She said abusers can often be identified as employees who are routinely absent on Mondays or Fridays, thus extending their weekends, or those who consistently miss one or two days every pay period.
"But if they can pay $15 or $25 for a certificate, why should they care?" Andrews said.
Andrews' joint statement with Stridiron warned doctors "of the government's intent to more carefully and aggressively scrutinize each certificate. In cases of excessive absenteeism or suspicious circumstances, doctors may be asked to support their certification, in writing, or they may be called upon to testify regarding the provision of services in departmental, administrative or court proceedings."
Their statement followed the closing Monday and Tuesday of the Motor Vehicle Bureau because its workers reportedly were ill.

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The territory's doctors have been asked to be "more responsible in the issuance of certificates of illnesses" for government workers.
A joint statement Wednesday by Attorney General Iver Stridiron and Karen Andrews, chief labor negotiator, said, "We have determined that certain physicians contribute to the problem (of a financially cash strapped government) by providing certificates of illness in a cursory and often irresponsible fashion."
Andrews said Thursday that she sent a request to all department heads earlier this year asking about the three biggest obstacles they face.
"The one prevailing issue was abuse of the sick leave policy," Andrews said.
It is a particularly difficult issue at a time when the government cannot hire more employees.
"We can't plan for the workforce," she said. "We have to have all our bodies."
One area that has always been problematic is the Education Department. In a 1996 series on education done by Melvin Claxton for the Daily News, Claxton said one in 10 teachers was absent every day. Andrews said that was still true.
Most government employees receive four hours of sick leave for every pay period in which they have worked 80 hours, according to Andrews.
A doctor's certificate is generally required after an employee has been absent three days or more.
However, "If you have an abuser, you can request it (a doctor's certificate) at any time," Andrews said.
She said abusers can often be identified as employees who are routinely absent on Mondays or Fridays, thus extending their weekends, or those who consistently miss one or two days every pay period.
"But if they can pay $15 or $25 for a certificate, why should they care?" Andrews said.
Andrews' joint statement with Stridiron warned doctors "of the government's intent to more carefully and aggressively scrutinize each certificate. In cases of excessive absenteeism or suspicious circumstances, doctors may be asked to support their certification, in writing, or they may be called upon to testify regarding the provision of services in departmental, administrative or court proceedings."
Their statement followed the closing Monday and Tuesday of the Motor Vehicle Bureau because its workers reportedly were ill.