Sick leave administration in Willemstad is a mess

POSTED: 11/25/14 10:05 PM

WILLEMSTAD, Curacao –The government in Curacao has no idea how long 39 of its civil servants that are at home have been on sick leave. All in all, 74 civil servants are currently not at work. Minister Etienne van der Horst (Administration, Planning and Service) revealed the numbers yesterday morning during the budget debate in Parliament.

The minister said that the number of absent civil servants has varied. When he took office the number was 68, later he saw numbers like 58, 68, 77 and now 74. These variances are not due to the fact that civil servants return to work, but because the administration is lacking.

Van der Horst said that within the group of 39, the administration sometimes lists a month and sometimes only a year. Four civil servants were unauthorized on sick leave.

One civil servant examined the limits of his possibilities by asking if it was okay for him to pursue a study in the Netherlands. Without waiting for permission, he left his job and kept receiving his salary in the Netherlands. Van der Horst wants to stop the salaries for those who are absent from work without a valid reason, but he told the Parliament that he has to follow procedures.

Civil servants that are longer than 2 years at home can lose 10 percent of their salary; those at home longer than 3 years, 20 percent. In December, the minister will apply this higher reduction to the salaries of four civil servants.

The government in Curacao is entangled in court cases with 55 civil servants. In 2013, the government was involved in 84 lawsuits and won only 19. On 3,600 civil servants, Van der Horst said that 84 lawsuits were not all that bad. “But it has to be zero. You’ll achieve that if employer and employee have clarity.”

Some civil servants win their lawsuits and still cannot get back to work because there is no political support. Pais-MP Eugène Cleopa said that this is unacceptable. “If civil servants win their case and politicians find that they should not come back to work, then those politicians have to pay for it from their own pocket.”

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