I am going fishing, I have medical certificate, Don’t try dismiss me!!!!!

And just when we thought things could not get any more unpredictable, the MEIBC in a very recent Arbitration Award ruled that the dismissal of an employee who went fishing whilst booked off with backache was unfair, because his absence was covered by a valid medical certificate.

In the matter between UASA obo Adams v. Atlantis Foundries (Pty) Ltd (2021) 30 MEIBC 8.37.3 the employee had been booked off for a back pain by a doctor, who recommended that he consult a neurosurgeon, the employee travelled to Namibia for a fishing trip without seeing a neurosurgeon. He was dismissed for abusing his sick leave. The employee denied that he had faked a back pain, but admitted that he had gone on the fishing trip.

The Commissioner noted that the essence of the charge was that the employee had obtained a medical certificate under false pretences. The certificate had complied with all the requirements set by the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997. Although the certificate did not excuse him from his decision to go fishing during the period in which he was booked off the respondent could not question the doctor’s diagnosis. The employee’s dismissal was, accordingly, substantively unfair.

The employee was reinstated with six months’ back pay.

This judgement once again comes as a warning to employers’ – make sure the “charge fits the transgression”.

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