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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, July 5, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesMALINGERING COULD BE CURBED - LET'S HOPE!

MALINGERING COULD BE CURBED – LET'S HOPE!

Sick leave abuse among the territory’s public servants has been a major headache for years. Many employees stay home when they aren’t really sick but just don’t feel like going to work. The results are obvious: inefficiency, lack of productivity, confusion and occasional shutdowns of offices.
It has been a widespread secret that a handful of doctors who willingly write sick slips for patients or friends have facilitated this costly practice.
But that may be — may is the operative part of that verb — coming to an end.
Two key Turnbull administration officials say the executive branch is drawing the line on "suspicious" excused illnesses, and they’ve put the islands’ doctors on notice that they’ll be held accountable for their actions.
"We have determined that certain physicians contribute to the problem by providing certificates of illness in a cursory and often irresponsible fashion," Attorney General Iver A. Stridiron and Chief Labor Negotiator Karen Andrews said in a joint statement last week.
They named no names, of course. However, they warned that administration officials intend to scrutinize doctors’ excuses "more carefully and aggressively." In cases of "excessive absenteeism or suspicious circumstances," doctors may be asked to justify their actions in writing or to testify in administrative or court proceedings.
Andrews told the Source that the administration also is going to take action against chronic abusers — those who are consistently absent on Mondays or Fridays or those who take a day or two off every pay period — by demanding proof of illness.
That too would be a welcome step. But will it happen?
It’s one thing to talk tough and quite another to follow through with action. And the Virgin Islands government, regardless of administration, has a distressing history of making threats — and promises — and not following through. This, of course, breeds disdain for and distrust of government and its officials. If public officials say one thing and then do another, why should anyone believe them?.
That is why we hope Stridiron’s and Andrews’ warnings are not just more idle threats. The Virgin Islands citizenry needs to have its faith in government restored, not its cynicism reinforced. So we, along with others, will be waiting and watching to see whether these officials are serious about curbing sick leave abuse.

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Sick leave abuse among the territory’s public servants has been a major headache for years. Many employees stay home when they aren’t really sick but just don’t feel like going to work. The results are obvious: inefficiency, lack of productivity, confusion and occasional shutdowns of offices.
It has been a widespread secret that a handful of doctors who willingly write sick slips for patients or friends have facilitated this costly practice.
But that may be — may is the operative part of that verb — coming to an end.
Two key Turnbull administration officials say the executive branch is drawing the line on "suspicious" excused illnesses, and they’ve put the islands’ doctors on notice that they’ll be held accountable for their actions.
"We have determined that certain physicians contribute to the problem by providing certificates of illness in a cursory and often irresponsible fashion," Attorney General Iver A. Stridiron and Chief Labor Negotiator Karen Andrews said in a joint statement last week.
They named no names, of course. However, they warned that administration officials intend to scrutinize doctors’ excuses "more carefully and aggressively." In cases of "excessive absenteeism or suspicious circumstances," doctors may be asked to justify their actions in writing or to testify in administrative or court proceedings.
Andrews told the Source that the administration also is going to take action against chronic abusers — those who are consistently absent on Mondays or Fridays or those who take a day or two off every pay period — by demanding proof of illness.
That too would be a welcome step. But will it happen?
It’s one thing to talk tough and quite another to follow through with action. And the Virgin Islands government, regardless of administration, has a distressing history of making threats — and promises — and not following through. This, of course, breeds disdain for and distrust of government and its officials. If public officials say one thing and then do another, why should anyone believe them?.
That is why we hope Stridiron’s and Andrews’ warnings are not just more idle threats. The Virgin Islands citizenry needs to have its faith in government restored, not its cynicism reinforced. So we, along with others, will be waiting and watching to see whether these officials are serious about curbing sick leave abuse.