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Important changes regarding the sick leave note will be put in practice from May 1 onward

As part of the recently announced changes to the health regulatory system of Dubai Health Authority (DHA), the doctor’s sick leave certificates will have to be registered online, even if it covers just one day.

Earlier, a day of sick leave did not mandate a doctor’s certificate, but with this new rule come a couple of implications, which might change the way residents think about taking a sick leave.

Recently, the DHA announced that sick leave will have to be registered electronically from May 1, 2013, with the aim of creating more transparency in the issuance of the sick leave notes.

“All sick leaves need to be issued electronically for the sake of auditing and prevention of abuse of sick leave. Henceforth, if a sick leave is needed, it should be issued electronically regardless of the number of days,” said Dr. Ramadan Ibrahim, Director of Health Regulation at the DHA.

“Issuing unnecessary sick leave leads to loss in valuable time for organisations and institutions, and DHA is here to protect the public and to ensure that healthcare organisations do not misuse any policy. This includes issuance of sick leaves.”

Until now, doctors could manually dispense handwritten sick leave certificates (on a medical institute’s letterhead). Sometimes, however, this resulted in fraud, say healthcare providers.

Cases have been brought to light where doctors did not mind issuing a not-fit-to-work certificate for a day or two if the patient delivered a convincing speech as to why he would need some days off from work.

From next month onward, however, manual issuance of a sick leave note will be penalised with a Dh5,000 fine. And that is not all that is going to change.

Previously, when the consultation was provided by a public healthcare provider, the issuance of a sick leave note would require DHA attestation.

With the electronic system in place, attestation is no longer needed. “Any sick leave issued electronically does not need to be attested by the DHA,” commented Dr. Ramadan.

The abolishment of attestation is likely to be welcomed by patients in the public sector, as attestation comes with a cost. “I was required to pay Dh60 when I had to have my sick leave note attested two weeks ago,” says M.K., an employee in the public sector.

“If I only want to take a sick leave for one or two days, Dh60 is quite a lot to pay. I would rather consume some of my annual leave days in order to save some money.”

At this point, it is not clear whether the charge will be abolished too. “There is small charge for issuing a sick leave and this is applicable in order to prevent abuse,” said Dr. Ramadan.

“However, DHA is always open to suggestions and comments, and we are currently reviewing the charges.”

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