Sick leave is allowed to a worker for a period of 90 consecutive or non-consecutive days for every service year. Out of which the first 15 days of the leave is leave with full pay, the next 30 days is leave with half pay and the rest of the days are unpaid leaves. This is in accordance with the federal law no. 8 of 1980 concerning the regulation of labor relations.
Every company/organization/institution in UAE requires its employees to provide for a medical certificate for the grant of the sick leaves especially when the sick leave granted is a paid leave or is for a period more than one day. Without such a certificate the leave taken is unpaid leave and unauthorized leave and hence it negatively affects the reputation and performance records of the said employee.
The provision of sick leave is enumerated in the labor law for the relief of the employees suffering from some illness and is not provided so that it can be used to get leave when you use up all your annual paid leaves that are available by law but it has often been misused by the employees to enjoy paid leave for a few days. Therefore the government of Dubai has provided for certain regulations for the private healthcare facilities as to the grant of sick leaves through the Executing Regulation of Administrative Order No. 317 of 2006 concerning authentication of Sick Leave Certificates issued by the Private Healthcare Facility (hereinafter referred to as ‘the law’).
The first question to be determined as to these leave certificates is who can grant them in Dubai? The law provides that only the physicians/dentists who possess the necessary license by the Dubai Health Authority to practice the medicine profession can grant sick leave certificates (SLC). The number of days for certified leave is also regulated by the law. A General Practitioner, Registrar of a Dentist can grant a maximum period of 3 days as sick leave. A specialist or Consultant may grant sick leaves up to a maximum period of 14 days. In event the illness of the patient requires for a leave for a period longer than 14 days, the same is to be mentioned in brief medical report and submitted to the Health Regulation Department for the approval of such excess leave. The maximum period of sick leave cannot exceed a period of 3 months as the maximum leave for sickness allowed by the labour law is for a period of 90 days.
The Health Regulation Department while approving the grant of leave for more than 14 days is obligated by the following responsibilities:
1. To follow up the authentication application of SLC that exceeds 14 days. Acceptance or amendment of any application is to be as per medical standards (after consulting DHA consultant). Should there be any amendment; medical justifications for the same is to be attached. The application is to be approved by Licensing and Specification Director before informing the relevant person.
2. To follow up and audit the sick certificates issued by the private healthcare sector, and issue periodical statistical reports in this regard.
3. To derive periodic indicators to identify the parties that issues the largest proportion of SLC, in order to ensure the seriousness/rightfulness of these certificates. If it transpires that a SLC was issued without rightful justification, the rules of DHA Regulation of Medical Violations and Financial Fines shall apply.
The professionals into Complimentary or Alternative Medicine (CAM) are not allowed to grant SLC unless they possess a medical degree i.e. Medical Doctor in Ayurveda (M.D.Ay.), Medical Doctor of Homeopathy (M.D.H.) can issue sick leaves for their patients for a maximum period of 3 days. Independent CAM facilities with CAM practitioner e.g. Ayurveda Practitioner (Ay.P.), Homeopathic Practitioner (H.P.) cannot issue sick leave for their patient, accordingly such facilities do not have access to the electronic sick leave system.
For a professional of the Dubai private sector licensed by the DHA to issue a SLC for the approved number of days as discussed above, the following conditions need to be satisfied:
1. The SLC is to be authenticated by the Licensing and Specification Department.
2. Such authentication is to be done electronically (online) and not manually through personal attendance of the DHA.
3. SLC issued retroactively may be authenticated if issued only for one day, at maximum, before the application date.
4. No authentication of SLC can be done for facility or physician/dentist whose licenses, at the date of application, are not renewed for more than 6 months.
5. Sick leave certificates issued by professional who license is temporarily suspended can’t be authenticated.
6. Sick leave certificates issued to the escort/accompanying of a patient for treatment is not considered as SLC (e.g. mother accompanying her son for hospital admission).
7. SLC can be issued and authenticated by healthcare facility even though the transactions are suspended for any reason, provided facility license is not temporarily suspended.
8. SLC to be granted by professionals can be granted only the healthcare facility at which the said professional is licensed to practice or at a healthcare facility at which such professional is permitted to temporarily practice by the Health Regulation Department.
The above listed regulations are to be strictly adhered to by the professionals and the healthcare facilities while granting SLC as the violations of the regulations are met with hefty fines. The fines provided for the non-compliance of the regulations with respect to the SLC is provided in the Decree of the Executive Council No. (32) of 2012 Concerning The Regulation of Practicing Health Professions in the Emirate of Dubai (hereinafter referred to as ‘the decree’). The decree provides for a fine of AED 5000 for the following:
1. Prescribing sick-leave not related to the professional’s license.
2. Sick-leave prescription by unauthorized people or administrative employees in the facility.
3. Prescribing forged sick-leave or without medical justification.
4. Prescribing sick-leave for a period longer than the permitted for the professional.
5. Failure to issue electronic sick-leaves.
The decree also provides for the duplication of fines if the offences are repeated within a period of 1 year with a maximum limit of duplicated fines one hundred thousand dirhams (AED 100,000) for professionals and two hundred thousand dirhams (AED 200,000) for facilities.
Apart from fines, the decree also provides for a fee of AED 60 to the patient for availing an electronic SLC. This fee is similar for all notwithstanding the type of illness or the number of days of leave the person is availing.
These provisions of the law and the decree are only applicable in Dubai. Within Dubai, the provisions of the decree apply to all non-governmental health facilities and their professionals in the Emirate and the free zones including Dubai International Financial Center and private development areas. The only exclusion available are the health facilities located in the Dubai Healthcare City which is governed by the law no. 9 of 2011.