Abu Dhabi: Licensed health care professionals in the emirate must now issue all sick leaves through a new online attestation programme, senior health care officials announced Wednesday.

Click here to see how the e-sick leave works (pdf)

"This system, which will increase efficiency and transparency among our three major stakeholders — the public, government entities and physicians, will be mandatory effective from March 1, 2012," said Dr Jamal Al Kaabi, the director of customer care and corporate communications at the Health Authority — Abu Dhabi (Haad).

"The e-Sick Leave System utilises guidelines for disability duration set by the Reed Group, which provides the world's most comprehensive set of disability management and it is actively used by multinational organisations in more than 38 countries," Mouza Al Mansouri, the committee's section head said.

"For example, if a General Practitioner issues a sick leave for a patient suffering from the common cold, he may not offer more than three days. If he attempts to offer a greater period, it will be rejected, since it doesn't correspond to the recommended day off. The practitioner must then re-submit the sick leave request with the correct period for approval," she added.

The system will replace the previous procedure used by government departments and private corporations who follow the Civil Services Law, whereby employees had to get their sick leaves stamped by the authority.

Instead, as part of the electronic system, a copy of any short leave provided by a health care professional, is immediately placed within the Haad's database while a hard copy, stamped and signed by the practitioner, is given to the patient.

"This allows us to track the amount of leaves issued by any health care professional to ensure that no misuse of sick leave takes place. If a practitioner is caught, disciplinary and even criminal procedures may be instigated," Al Kaabi said.

"Last year, we caught a doctor who issued 200 false sick leaves after receiving a tip off. After an investigation was conducted, appropriate measures were taken and the doctor was banned from practicing further," he added.

Trial run

"We have already implemented this programme on a trial basis in April 2011 with great success … between the months of April and December, 55,454 sick leaves were issued within the system … while we are urging all health care facilities to implement the system, a grace period will be given for those that may need additional time to do so," he added.

The e-Sick Leave Attestation System is divided into two types: short term (less than 7 days, whether consecutive or otherwise) and long term (all types of sick leave reports issued for a period greater than seven consecutive days).

"Short term leaves are approved automatically within the system while long term leaves must be approved by the Haad's medical committee andmust be submitted within 10 days of an employee rejoining work," Al Mansouri said.

"General Practitioners may approve short term leaves only, with the exception of certain cases such as a patient contracting the chicken pox or hepatitis A. However, specialists and consultants can provide short term or long term leaves," she added.


The duration of a sick leave must correspond to the guidelines of an international evidence-based criteria reference guide, an official noted.

To ensure a smooth transition into the new system, officials from the Haad have approached medical professionals across Abu Dhabi since April 2011, providing seminars and workshops. Human resources (HR) executives were also provided with training to spot whether any employee is abusing the sick leave system.

False leave: Abusing system

Gulf News reported on January 31, that a General Practitioner was arrested by an undercover policeman and referred to Abu Dhabi Criminal Court for prosecution for providing false sick leave certificates for a Dh100 fee.

The former health care professional, who is of Arab nationality, had illegally retained the hospital's seal and stole blank sick leave certificates following the termination of his employment from a public hospital.

— N.F.