KUALA LUMPUR: For backaches, neck pain and other treatable ailments, some workers have chalked up between 200 and 3,000 days of medical leave each.
Socso believes that out of some 62,000 workers receiving temporary disablement benefits, about 15% or 9,300 get medical leave of more than 200 days a year.
This has become a sore point with Socso, which has to pay 80% of their salaries each month.
Socso chief executive officer Dr Soh Chee Seng said recently that the organisation should be viewed as one that provided social security to injured workers and not a welfare organisation.
“Many of those receiving medical certificates (MCs) for a prolonged period complained of problems that can be treated such as backaches and soft tissue injuries,” he said.
Dr Soh said a recent Socso survey found two workers who had chalked up 2,920 days (or eight years) and 2,190 days (six years) of medical leave respectively.
Eight others had accumulated four to five years’ leave each and 36 had taken a total of three years' leave each.
The random survey covering 321 workers from among those with more than 200 days of medical leave for “work-related injuries” also found that 275 workers were given medical leave of one to two years.
Dr Soh said Socso planned to impose a ceiling on the number of MCs given to workers.
“If a worker has reached the ceiling, he or she must be referred to our medical board for injury assessment and those eligible will be paid permanent disablement benefits,” he said.
In its bid to address the issue, he added, Socso has just introduced a rehabilitation programme to enable workers to return to the workplace.
“Everyone who starts to take long medical leave will be picked for the programme eventually,” he said.
Socso medical and rehabilitation manager Dr Mohammed Azman Aziz Mohammed said that when a patient has taken 200 days of medical leave or more, the doctors concerned would have to report on their status.
“We will ask if any further medical treatment can improve the patient’s condition or if the patient can be referred to the medical board for permanent disability assessment,” he said.
Elaborating on the plan, Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn said it was aimed at reducing the number of workers who would eventually suffer permanent disability.
He said it would also mean that those abusing MCs would be hauled up and sent back to their jobs.
“Socso will help to find alternative employment for workers who are unable to fit into their original jobs.
“The programme will help Socso better manage its funds. It is a win-win situation for both parties,” he added.
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