Bosses aim to reduce sick leave among civil servants

| 27/03/2012

sid james (254x300).jpg(CNS): The level ofsick leave taken by public sector workers appears to be a concern among civil services bosses as it was one of the issues discussed during the deputy governor’s meeting with the heads of department last week.  According to the minutes from Monday 19 March which were pro-actively released by the deputy governor’s office the chief officers agreed that the civil service should have uniform policies regarding sick leave. The managers pointed to a need to ensure consistent administration and application of the leave and to reduce any abuse.

Various initiatives to further reduce the level of leave being taken were discussed but the minutes don’t reveal any details of the amount of time being taken by employees in the public sector or to what extent the system is being abused.
The minutes record that the portfolio of the civil service is to circulate the latest guidance on sick leave to Chief Officers.

Among other issues discussed at the public sector bosses meeting was a Cabinet note regarding health insurance for civil servants and pensioners but no details were reveal in the minutes to indicate what the note was about.

In addition, the proposed Deputy Governor’s Award was approved by the civil service chiefs who will be continuing their work on the new award scheme.

The senior managers also heard that Dr Paul Sutton will be delivering a presentation to civil servants regarding the changes in the Cayman and UK relationship on March 27 and that Lord Blencathra, Head of the London Office, will be available to meet with Chief Officers this week.

See minutes below

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Comments (45)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    It would be interesting to see some raw data with this article. Just how many sick days are people taking and when are they taking them? Why not publish department by department data? The article only leads to all of these emotion based comments instead of comments with facts to back them up. Also, if a couple of employees in a large department abuse the privilege it casts a gray cloud over the entire department that is arguably unfair. I know of quite a few people in the civil service and private sector who take one or 2 sick days a year if any.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It is who you is and who you know and which departments you works for.

    I think the problem isas Franz say there is no standard policy across the civil service.

    one department  will allow you up to three days without a sick note, another department allow you up to one day without a sick note.

    If you use all your sick days and then get sick one department makes you take it from any annual leave you have left, another department deducts it from your pay, another department tells you to apply for extended sick leave and another department says you can't have extended sick leave unless all your sick days is used, all your vacation is used and the time is more than one week. 

    So you see why Franz feels there is a need to bring some consistency to the issue. 

    It is unfortunate but true, I have heard so many people talking about their 10-days sick leave allowance as if it was part of their vacation and they actually factor those 10 days in as their vacation time. 

    Those are the kind of abuses that need to be stopped. It sets a bad precedent for the remainder of the civil service who come to work diligently and then the one time they are sick they are given such a hard time to get the time off. 

    Where I work, the expatriates rarely take sick leave, they are always in there coughing over everyone else, shaking your hand after just sneezing in it, runny noses, burning up with fever but they are so afraid that their contract do not get renewed they come to work anyway. 

    The civil service is a very lackadaiscal place to work.

    Work is due Friday, can't get it until maybe Monday because "Mary" called in sick and apparently no one else in the department can do her job.  Monday morning "Mary" calls in sick again so work is still not received. Tuesday Mary comes to work "feeling better" and is heard telling her co-worker that she went to Miami for the weekend and took the Friday morning flight and she was tired after getting back on Sunday night so she called in sick again on Monday. I suppose tiredness is a form of "sickness".

  3. Slowpoke says:

    If this is a "real" problem, move to a personal day plan, where you get X number of days for illness, birthday, hangover, vacation, taking care of kids…

    But, do your research so that you do not just give aditional time to lots of people who don't need it, because of marl road stories and bad apples…

  4. Anonymous says:

    I am made to understand that some civil servants exhausts their sick leave benefit by March or April of each year. I am also made to understand that the most abuse happens in Customs, Police, Immigration, Labour, an all of the Ministries. If this is the case, this is truly sad. What Govt should do is publish the sick days lost by each department for the last 3 years to really see where the abuse is. In the private sector, this would and is considered misconduct- yet in the Civil Service- it appears to be a reward. Go figure!!!!!

  5. The lone Haranguer says:

    The fat over wieght civil service is going to suck the life out of this contry, big pensions big salaries big health care this contry is in a lot of trouble.

    The private sector is going to be forced to pay more and more to feed the monster and when the monster kills the private sector the monster will then die.

    It will take a while but because of the political power these civil servants have it is almost inevitable. Sorry.





    • Anonymous says:

      1000% correct…

      the civil service is like an anchor around caymans neck…….

  6. Anonymous says:

    Incompetence is as incompetence does…or has meetings to flex their power when they are too incompetent to think of new innovative ways to increase productivity. How about trying to engage your employees instead of alienate them with your rank.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Franz needs to focus on productivity, it might even increase when "some" people are out sick.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Don't forget the Bill and Employment  Rights! I'd hate to have over anxious managers harrassing and infringing on contractial rights, some already have a reputation of micromanaging in order to justify the value they don't provide.


  9. Anonymous says:

    Great!  And when they reduce the sick leave, guess what happens?  More people sick, because they were not given the time to recover. Next, you'll hear that the bosses are sick and no one to hold them accountable for entending their own sick leave to their liking.

    • Anonymous says:

      As crazy as your argument sounds you are in fact talking much sense. My office went as far as calling a sick employee informing her(intimidating actually) she should show up for work, even though she had a doctors note. She returned to work only to vomit over her desk, be sent home and have her wages docked!  Don't for a moment believe all is rosey as a civil servant.

      • Anonymous says:

        Agreed – but we all know 9/10 times these "sick" days are abused by the hypochondriacs among us, those people need to stop being lazy, man-up and do their job! Unless they are genuinely sick, of course.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why would anyone want to encourage the spread of disease by making sick people work? Draconian.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The best part of the joke is that about 50% of the days taken are never even recorded by the incompetent managers.

  11. Mulatuli says:

    Cayman, where sick day entitlement is seen as part of the holiday allowance.

  12. Anonymous says:

    We need to stop the bashing on this global website less we give the world the oh so wrong impression that all Caymanians are sick and lazy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every person is different, regardless of their nationaliity. I am a very motivated, dedicated, hardworking and loyal Caymanian working in the private sector in the same employment ( consistently attaining higher positions with added responsibilities) for 32 years. Except for my scheduled vacation days I have not taken any days off nor have I  taken a day off for sick leave during the last 5 years. As a matter of fact throughout my career I have not taken very many days sick days at all.

    Put God first, follow His Word (the Bible) give an honest day's work for an honest day's pay, improve one's health, physically, mentally and spiritually and live a satisfied life.

    Motivate and inspire our colleagues, friends, and fellow men ( including our Caymanians)  to be the best they can be. When a satisfactory recognition and reward system is in place, properly administered, salary and benefits are fairly distributed and formal policies are instituted and if the absenteeism continues then managerial courage needs to be exercised. 

    Stay positive, my fellow Caymanians and residents, it is only through harmony and love for our Creator and each other that we can have a peaceful Island paradise, the Cayman Islands

    • Anonymous says:

      Not all Caymanians are lazy, but being brutally honest, I work in a company where there are equal numbers of ex-pats and Caymanians.  Guess which ones you can almost guarantee will be off sick Mondays and Fridays.  In any week, you can guarantee that on a Monday and/or Friday at least one person calls in sick – and they are mainly Caymanian.  I'm not saying that the ex-pats don't also do this on occasion, but in the main, earlier comments are right.  I regularly hear Caymanins asking how much of their 'sickness allowance' they have left for the year!  If that isn't giving a bac name to Caymanians, I don't know what will!

      • Anonymous ;-) says:

        I personally don't think it gives a bad name. It is just an sys-opener. Expats that come here have lesser responsibilities than locals. I have even witnessed companies rent places for expats, get them a new car, and bestow on them all sorts of perks. The locals on the other hand, have none of that. They have to go back to their homes, pay mortgages, car loans, and take care of their kids. They have more responsibilities than foreignors who have left theirs in the hands of someone else. So all I am saying is before you start blabbering your cow tongue about how Caymanians or locals are lazy and nonproductive, see the whole pie. They also call the natives on other islanders lazy and nonproductive. It is a "righteous expat ideaology" it seems to laud and prey over people who have responsibilities in order to make money and profit. Employers that want their own folk to come here and work for them also come with such talk in order to keep out the locals. They exaggerate the image of locals to bring in their clan. It is typical and happens everywhere in the world. As a Caymanian, should I feel ashame that we have more on our plate than an expat who has little and can dedicate more to their job?  Of course not!  I am wholly proud of what we have done and if that means getting more sick during the year to accomplish all that we are accountable for – then so be it!  I am a proud Caymanian and no expat or socalled employer can threaten me or take that away in comparison with somebody else. The business world is not the sole world out there. You need to realize that. There is also family, community, physical well being, etc… 

    • Anonymous says:

      Good for you – what about the rest?

    • Anonymous says:

      Crap, it seems I choose the wrong religion again!

      Anyone have the success rate for Jews?

    • Anonymous says:

      well there is always one good apple…..

  13. Anonymous says:

    When I worked in the civil service, certain Caymanians-the useless hired out of school ones, NOT the majority – took their 10 days every year. Foreigners didn't do it because they didn't get their contracts renewed. Caymanians should be employed on contracts too to keep them honest.

  14. Anonymous says:

    ..and nothing was done…zzzzzzzzzzzz

  15. Anonymous says:

    A better headline would be: "Top Civil Servants To Piss In Wind"

  16. Anonymous says:

    Civl servants are more sick than people in thr private sector because they work much harder.

    The Government should givr them time off to do benenficiazl activites like yoga


  17. Anonymous says:

    They don't have a Gov wide Policy?

    Shouldn't these very highly paid "Bosses" be producing useful accounts?

    Shouldn't the Dep Gov simply issue a policy to ALL Gov? and leave sick leave decisions to qualified Doctors?

    Ah boy….wha a mess!

    • Anonymous says:

      In fairness I think the issues with policy and consistency across departments is in terms of extended sick leave, not use of the 10 days for "minor accidents and illness". The 10 days is pretty clear – you get up to 10 and if you use 3 or more in a row you need a doctor's note. (Though sometimes people get more than 10 paid days and that's a problem.) Extended medical leave, on the other hand, is not consistently applied.

      I know of way too many people who have gotten weeks or even months of full paid "extended medical" leave for ridiculous reasons. Serious, chronic conditions or required surgery with extended recovery time are one thing. Elective surgery that has nothing to do with how you are able to do your job, minor broken bones or sprains and other reasons are something else.

      If I see you at the beach with your kids, out at the bars singing karaoke and having fun with friends or out at events and charity functions… your ass should also be at work. Unfortunately, some civil servants get full paid extended medical leave under conditions that another manager would not approve and this is what really needs to be reviewed.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am a Caymanian, worked for 40 years, had 10 days sick leave with a doctors' certificate during my tenure.  Worked hard, long hours, and was paid a salary.  I gave of my best at all times but  what the general public doesn't know, is that the majority of employees are too busy making sure that they are paid for 10 days sick leave.  If you complain about their actions, you are seen as the devil in the room and complaints are ignored by the higher authorities.

      The senior managers are as bad or worse than their staff.   

  18. Thankful Again says:

    Civil servants are stressed to the max, what else can be expected?!  I actually pity the public servants

    • R.U. Kidden says:

      That's the most ridiculous statement I've seen on here in a long time.  Maybe the MOST ridiculous!

  19. Anonymous says:

    My observation the past 10+ years in Cayman is that a significat percentage of local staff view sick days as 'personal' days and use up their full allowance year after year. So their 10 sick days get added to their vacation days. It's also funny how the sick days usually fall on a Monday/Tuesday or Thursday/Friday as they only need sick notes if they are off 3 consecutive business days from work. Coincidence? I think not. Bwoy dem long weekends sure are sweet.

  20. Anonymous says:

    This is common place throughout every sector of Cayman's workforce with Caymanians, ask any boss of any business.

    I know of people who have taken sick leave within their first week of employment and others who have taken more sickleave in their first month than anyone normally does in an entire year.

    And they wonder why they can't get a job…

    P.S. I am a Caymanian.

    • Anonymous says:

      Expats do the same thing

      • Anonymous says:

        I doubt that. Their work permits would be pulled and they would be off-island within a couple of days (minus pension and the last month's pay).

    • Anonymous says:

      thank you for the honesty…. and thank you cns for posting it…..

  21. Anonymous says:

    The level of absenteeism is twofold – firstly, there is an entitlement culture, which most probably originated inthe US where sick leave can be considered part of your vacation entitlement.  Thats somewhat understandable when you only get 10 days a year, but with civil servants here getting 18+ it doesn't stick.

    The larger problem however most likely revolves around the engagement levels of staff being extremely low.  Part of that is because of the job for life culture, but there is a wider issue that the Civil Service really pays little attention to motivation and morale, which are highly correlated to productivity.  An engagement survey is probably long overdue to understand whether anything can be done.  Proper, meaningful training and development plans would go a long way.  Some Department's have made attempts to train their most talent employees but the rest need to have plans to.

  22. Anonymous says:

    interesting that civil service is 75% caymanian…….

  23. Anonymous says:

    Good luck with that.

  24. Anonymous says:

    It might be worth considering introducing a realistic programme of health screening for all public servants starting before they are employed and then repeated at regular intervals during their employment.

    Judging by the state of some of those I've had to deal with over the years much of the 'sick' leave has more to do with lifestyle issues than any specific illness.

  25. Anonymous says:

    There are so many comments that could be made about this report. The nicest thing I can say is this is the tip of the iceberg. 

  26. Uncivil Servant says:

    Use it or lose it sista!