Friday, August 22, 2014

Sick leave

Lately I have been feeling guilty. During a six week period over this summer, I have taken three separate days off due to illness. Although all three days were legitimate reasons (diarrhoea, diarrhoea and, guess what, diarrhoea), I still feel bad about taking time off work due to being sick. I loathe to take sick leave. If a doctor takes a day off for illness, there is one less doctor to see patients. Eventually this will create a backlog of patients that need to be seen and sometimes other doctors have to bear the brunt of this situation.

During my hospital rotation of two years, I only took one day off due to genuine illness. I still had to take sick leave off when attending my psychiatrist appointments but my work schedule can be arranged beforehand. I was even better during my first two years of general practice, where I took ZERO days off due to illness (but still taking time off to see my shrink). That was a statistic I could feel smug about.

Yet over the past year, I had to take twenty and half days of sick leave. That was over three times the amount I had taken in the prior four years, if you included the advance sick leave I had to take for my psychiatrist appointments. I know growing old means you get more aches and pains but a 300% increase was just taking the piss. However the figures are skewed as I broken my left ring finger that time, which required to me take eleven and half days off work. Then I had to spend another eleven half-day sessions (five and half days in total) for following up with the orthopaedics surgeon, the occupational medicine doctor, the physiotherapist and the occupational therapist just so I can get back to normal. Seventeen days were taken off work just because I broke a finger!

Mainly the reason why I hate taking sick leave is because I hate people who take sick leave, especially for trivial matters. Unfortunately I see this a lot due to my job nature. There are patients who, within the first signs of a common cold, come to the doctor immediately and demand (not ask but DEMAND) a couple of days off work just because they got a blocked up nose. There are people who genuinely should have sick leave, from getting injured at work or having diarrhoea and fever while working in a kitchen. Yet there are people who frequently take time off work because of benign symptoms. Don't those people realize if you are taking time off work due to trivial illnesses, there might be something ELSE wrong with you?

There should be a limit of how much sick leave you can take during a year. After that certain amount has been breached, there should be a deduction in your salary. I was happy to accept I would take a cut off my salary for the month I was out due to my broken finger but it didn't happen. I think there should be a look at people who take too much time off due to illness.