Ekurhuleni warns public over sick notes fraud

Londiwe Dlomo Journalist
Employees ‘are using clinic attendance letters to dupe bosses’
Employees ‘are using clinic attendance letters to dupe bosses’
Image: 123rf.com/gekaskr

Ekurhuleni Municipality has raised the alarm about a scam in which workers use the city’s public clinic attendance letters as sick notes to fool their bosses. 

The rise of this fraud has resulted in the city issuing a public notice to warn employers and to teach the public about the difference between a doctor’s sick note and a clinic attendance letter. 

“The City of Ekurhuleni has had to issue a public notice to teach the public the difference after health practitioners in Ekurhuleni have sounded an alarm due to the increase in number of people visiting the city’s health facilities requesting sick notes,” said the city in a statement issued on Monday.

The fraud allegations were brought to the municipality’s attention by an employer who visited one of the clinics to verify the credibility of his employee’s sick notes. The employer learned that the notes were clinic attendance letters that had been forged into sick notes.

"Falsification/altering of documents, including a medical certificate, is a dismissible misconduct in the workplace and a criminal offence punishable by a court of law. A clinic attendance letter does not give a patient permission to be off sick  as it is a document that serves as a confirmation that a person visited a particular health facility.

“A clinic attendance letter only confirms that a patient was indeed at the clinic and is mostly given to patients on chronic medication who would ideally spend an hour or two at the clinic to collect their repeat medication or have an appointment,” said the municipality.

It further explained that in some instances, some employers needed the letter, hence healthcare workers also indicated the time the patient left the health facility, which would also be recorded on the clinic database. However, in exceptional cases, a sick note could be issued to a patient after seeing a doctor, who is the only practitioner with authority to issue one, said the city’s head of department for health and social development, Dr Gilbert Motlatla.

“A medical certificate or sick leave cannot be used for routine check-ups, examinations, medical tests, collection of medication from a pharmacy or appointments with other medical practitioners. It is also important to note that a clinic attendance letter or medical certificate is only issued to patients, and not the persons accompanying them,” said Motlatla.

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