Cyprus Mail

Ministry set to overhaul civil service medical leave

THE process with which public servants are awarded sick leave is going to be overhauled, health ministry spokeswoman Maria Lantidou confirmed on Thursday.

“This is a broader problem not just for the health ministry but for the state as a whole. There is a willingness to correct the problem,” she told the Cyprus Mail.

Her comments come in light of reports that the Cabinet is expected to instruct the health ministry to change the way it reviews and approves applications for sick leave.

Although Lantidou refrained from giving details pending an official announcement, she confirmed there would be studies to combat the phenomenon where medical certificates issued by doctors often suit the personal whims of employees.

This includes for example, a cleaner working in a ministry who has a medical certificate saying she cannot mop the floor.

According to Lantidou “there will be consequences” to doctors who issue certificates when they shouldn’t, but did not elaborate.

Authorities will be re-evaluating the way medical councils approve, examine or deny public servants requests to obtain or extend their sick leave or use certificates allowing them to refrain from certain duties.

In 2014, some 800 from among 25,585 civil servants were absent for close to six months and 2,944 were away for more than 28 days. Although their sick leave was granted with a medical certificate, 61 per cent took sick leave for a few days without using a certificate.

Other instances, which Lantidou described as a “well known phenomenon”, include three nurses who were set to be transferred from Limassol to another district and obtained medical certificates rendering them incapable of travelling for various reasons.

According to Phileleftheros, one the nurses’ certificate said she could not drive for more than five kilometres.

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