Vincy Workplace
October 19, 2007

Sick leave scams

We’ve all done it; we’ve all taken a sick day when we weren’t really sick-a “mental health” day: a day when we just needed to get away from our work environment before we “lost it.” {{more}}

But those are occasional sick days and seldom stretch into extended sick leave. What exactly is sick leave? The answer you get will depend on who you ask. For too many, sick leave is an excuse to have an extended paid holiday, compliments of their employer and the National Insurance Service. But is that fair?

According to the labour laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, each employee is entitled to a certain number of sick days. That number is determined by the number of years the employee has been in service. The law also states that by the third day absent from work, an employee must produce a medical certificate to verify their need to be out of work for a longer period.

However, what the laws say and what actually occurs are usually far apart. Of course, lots of people legitimately need and use their sick leave to rest and recover from illness or injury; but a trend seems to be growing among others who intentionally exploit the sick leave policy. In some parts of the world, this type of behavior can be prosecuted.


When an employee lies and receives a financial gain, he or she has committed a crime known as fraud. Say, for example, you are on sick leave, collecting sick leave benefits, but you are actually conducting your life as usual; or say you are working part time to help out a friend with their business or partying until the wee hours of the morning; some people even leave the country to go on pre-planned vacations. In other words, the activities of these people are not curtailed by sickness even though they have reported they are unable to work. Meanwhile, their coworkers are suffering at the office, having to not only do their own work but the work of the absent person as well. In addition, the employers and the NIS bear the financial burden of paying the salaries of these unscrupulous people.

The co-conspirators.

One of the most disturbing pieces of this activity is that these cunning employees have managed to draft a few co-conspirators into their deceit. The primary co-conspirators are doctors who knowingly write medical certificates that falsify sicknesses and request unnecessary time off from work for healthy people. Maybe, in their minds, they are simply providing a favour to a tired friend. Whatever the reasoning, their actions are unethical and if not illegal, should be.

Why do employees defraud the system?

Many people who engage in sick leave fraud do not consider their actions fraudulent. “It’s no big deal, right?” they say confidently. “A few extra days here or there are harmless,” especially when you feel tired or overworked. Other employees feel like having the employer pay for sick leave while they relax at home is their opportunity to “get even with” employers for past incidents; their actions are justified in their minds.

While it’s important to make sure that people with legitimate claims receive time off with pay, scam artists are making it difficult. Maybe it is time employers and the NIS take action. If violators are caught, make them pay back the money they stole.

After all, stealing is an offence and this does qualify. Doesn’t it?

Karen Hinds President/CEO –
Workplace Success Group,
Toll Free: 1-877-902-2775;
Tel: 1-203-757-4103
Creator of The Workplace Success Program (TM)