Incapacity leave is a concern in many organisations, both in the international and national arena. The management of incapacity leave and the general understanding of what the concept is as well as its processes and procedures remain a challenge to many employees and employers worldwide. The findings from previous research studies and the Health Risk Managers’ reports in South Africa reveal that various Government departments are still experiencing an escalation in costs with regard to the alarming incapacity leave applications by employees (Public Service Commission, 2010:2).
It has been discovered by a previous research study conducted by the Public Service Commission in 2010 that one of the main barriers to the smooth implementation of the Policy and Procedure on Incapacity Leave and Ill-health Retirement (PILIR) was the lack of information employees and managers in various government departments have regarding the concept of incapacity leave. Therefore a quantitative research approach was appropriate to determine the knowledge of Department of Labour employees regarding the processes of application for incapacity leave. A randomised cross sectional survey design was utilised to carry out the research study with a questionnaire as a survey instrument.
Quantitative data was collected through a questionnaire from the sample of 106 employees in the Department of Labour in Gauteng province and valuable conclusions emanated from the findings of this research study. Only 49.06% employees in the Department of Labour in Gauteng province who participated in the research study indicated that they were familiar with the application process for incapacity leave while the other 50.94% indicated that they were not familiar with the process. Most of the challenges experienced by employees during application for incapacity leave in the Department of Labour were attributed to a lack of adequate knowledge and training on the subject matter.
The study was also concluded with some useful and relevant recommendations from the employees’ responses on how to improve the whole process of incapacity leave in the Department of Labour. One of the crucial recommendations drawn from the findings of this research study was that more information sessions and training on the processes and procedures regarding application for incapacity leave should be conducted regularly throughout the whole Department of Labour. Another recommendation was that the application process for incapacity leave should be monitored from beginning to end in order to identify the strengths and developmental areas in the whole process, as well to provide regular updates to employees who have applied for incapacity leave in order to keep them abreast regarding the progress of their application.