This policy brief addresses the question of whether Brunei Darussalam should adopt a self-certifying medical leave policy (SCML) for employees in the public and private sector. It also proposes for the best SCML option to adopt if SCML is to be implemented.

The policy brief recommended that SCML should be implemented for both public and private sectors as the existing system requiring medical certificates (MCs) for sick leave is prone to abuse and has a tendency to encourage or at least, accommodate longer and unnecessary absenteeism from work. This presents negative implications as it results in considerable direct and indirect costs to the workplace, individual and Ministry of Health (MoH). There is a strong case for proper control on the duration of paid sick leave for minor illnesses and abuse of MC issuance so that absenteeism can be reduced. A more robust management of sick leave can be achieved via an SCML policy which provides empowerment for employees to decide whilst at the same time, incentivizes them to reduce sick leave or to return to work earlier.

Our recommendation is for the abolition of the MC requirement for taking sick leave for minor illnesses in favour of the SCML provision for a specified number of six days per year to be taken not more than two days in a row. In addition, there should be a monetary reward for the number of SCML days that are not utilised by the employee to be paid on an annual basis. If this is administratively inexpedient, then the monetary reward may be omitted to allow for six days SCML per year to be taken not more than two days in a row.

In September 2016, MoH applied our recommendation for SCML using option 1: Self-certification of a specified number of sick leave days to be deducted from existing annual leave.

This study has been published as a CSPS Policy Brief in 2014.