Work stress making employees sick

Several workers in Barbados are suffering from stress-related illnesses.

General Secretary of the Unity Workers Union Caswell Franklyn gave that assessment in response to Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo’s charge that the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) paid out $24 million in sick leave claims last year.

Dismissing the Minister’s claim that some workers may be malingering, the outspoken trade unionist said: “The Minister is a medical doctor and should know better. These workers are suffering from a lot of stress-related illnesses and they are causing them to report sick”.

“What Senator Byer is saying is that some doctors are giving out bogus sick certificates, but then she says she wants to meet with them.

“That does not make sense, because she is telling the doctors they are doing something wrong and yet she wants to meet with them.”

Franklyn repeated his charge that there was too much stress in the workplace.

“People want to get out of the work environment; it is too stressful. Ten workers from one workplace joined my union and said: ‘Get me out of that place, let them pay me out and let me move on’.” Franklyn said.

He further charged that employers were not only assigning more work to the employees, but were also piling on the pressure.

“Many employers are following Government’s lead and not giving their workers wage increases at a time when prices of goods are rising. People are finding it hard to make ends meet. Then, with all that is going on in the worker’s life, he has to go to work and meet an awful boss who is making life really miserable for that worker. Workers do not have any choice but to go to their doctor,” he lamented.

The outspoken trade unionist pointed out he was more frequently referring people to psychologists and psychiatrists because of the problems they faced.

“I tell them, ‘Look, you do not need me, you need a psychiatrist.’ So far for this year alone, I have sent five workers to see a psychiatrist,” Franklyn said.

Last Sunday, while making a presentation at the St Michael’s Cathedral to mark the 50th anniversary of the National Insurance Department, Byer-Suckoo said that at the end of 2016, NIS had paid out $25 million in sick leave claims. She reported that the ministry had embarked on a mission to remedy the problem.

The Government Senator said she had already begun to petition the island’s medical practitioners to think twice before prescribing sick leave.

She lamented that the large volume of sick leave claims had also created a backlog of “unacceptable delays in processing”, but assured that the NIS would ensure Barbadians received benefits due to them.

According to Byer-Suckoo, some 54,000 people benefited from last year’s sick leave payouts and she urged Barbadians to adopt healthier lifestyles to fight off the epidemic of non-communicable diseases, which she suggested were major contributors to the number of sickness and disability claims being processed by the National Insurance Department.

23 Responses to Work stress making employees sick

  1. Marsha Hewitt Boyce
    Marsha Hewitt Boyce June 9, 2017 at 1:04 am


  2. Sheldine Dyall
    Sheldine Dyall June 9, 2017 at 1:55 am

    Not only work stress ,sick dirty buildings, unprofessional superiors.

  3. Ras June 9, 2017 at 2:45 am

    Workers tired of the front line Union who selling them out.
    Having secret meetings with Management and telling the workers a different story. The Union former #2 man now working for the private sector and he slowly but surely taking back all the gains that were made when he was with the Union. But after he get used they will dump him and bring a Trinidadian for the job just now.
    What goes around comes around.

  4. Everick Holder
    Everick Holder June 9, 2017 at 5:40 am

    And excessive taxes and high prices . Don’t forget those

  5. Maaz A Love
    Maaz A Love June 9, 2017 at 6:41 am

    Cost of livin too high …$$$

  6. Shakira Small
    Shakira Small June 9, 2017 at 6:43 am

    So true

  7. Wayne P Hoyte
    Wayne P Hoyte June 9, 2017 at 6:45 am

    Balancing the work load and social media could be stressful too. Pick one

  8. Ricci Khan June 9, 2017 at 6:59 am

    When I worked for Companies years ago I was amazed to see thst every December my fellow workers in every company checked to see how many sick days they had not taken for the year, went to their doctors, got certificates and presented them to the HR persons and went home. In my entire working career I have never received a Sick Certificate. SO, MR UNION MAN…..YOU ARE DEAD WRONG. NO WORK STRESS, JUST TRADITION AND SHEER LAZINESS.

  9. Mhizz Firstlady Hinds
    Mhizz Firstlady Hinds June 9, 2017 at 7:14 am

    Shotta Prince

  10. Carolyn Wickham
    Carolyn Wickham June 9, 2017 at 7:35 am

    Ever since…… Some employers have staff working on contracts… How are ppl to plan a future

  11. seagul June 9, 2017 at 8:09 am

    So much for living in the past–KHAN I have a holiday and and a raise sir?? THEE HUNDRED YEARS AND NO FISCAL PROGRESS IS NOT LAZINESS, THAT’S EXPLOITATION….

  12. Krystle Boyce
    Krystle Boyce June 9, 2017 at 8:14 am

    Been happening for years

  13. Greengiant June 9, 2017 at 8:44 am

    @ Ricci Khan; While I like Franklyn, respects his views on several issues, and will admit he has a meaningful contribution to make to the labor movement in this country. I must agree with you, there’s often times stress in the home. Do these same workers take leave from the home? What you’re saying is perfectly true, my partner is a civil servant, and she sickens me to hear her on the phone saying how many more days she has to take for the year, and how many lieu days she’s accumulated for her vacation. This is all they think about, I’ve never heard her discussing production, or more effective ways of working with her work colleagues.

    I want to see the new employment rights legislation amended to reflect things such as non-certified sick days being deducted from lieu days. An agreed number of certified sick days per year making persons medically unfit for production in the workplace. Most of these claims borders on fraudulence and we all know this. We can’t want the country to recover economically, want reduced taxes, want continuous state funded services, and be draining the state’s revenue like this. It simply will not work, so please Caswell get in tune with stress management programs for your workers, and keep them on the job. Since N I S and other deductions are reflective of time spent at work, perhaps the time has come for union dues to be reflective similarly. As the unions seem to be in support of this negative trend by employees even though it eventually leads to loss of business, employment and reduction in union revenue. Both employer, employee and unions are at fault for our unacceptable level of productivity in both sectors. The private sector however will challenge workers, and pressure them as they’re not looking for votes, while party loyalists, and union members in the public sector will protect their comrades. That’s why we need to constantly be tightening legislation.

  14. joan Worrell June 9, 2017 at 9:54 am

    No Government Department starts work at 8 o’clock. No Government employee takes less than an hour and a half for lunch. Every Government employee is out of the department by 4.30. Try calling SSA between 11.30 a.m and 2 p.m and tell me if anyone answers the phone. Go to the Immigration Department without an appointment and tell me if anyone looks in your direction. Go to the Q.E.H for a blood test as a diabetic and tell me if you get priority after fasting overnight. The procedure is there but it is rarely carried out. Soon after the person who takes the blood arrives on duty, he/she takes a break for a snack/breakfast. Go to the Registration Department with a query and tell me how long you have to get it sorted out. I must admit that the head of the department works beyond the call of duty to get the department function properly but he has a real fight on his hands. Go upstairs the Inland Revenue Department with a query and tell me how soon you get attention. However you can hear staff chatting away about hot topics of the day in the lunch room. And the woes go on and on in the Government Departments. Try to clear a barrel from the port and tell me if you can away from there under 4 hours. Why do you have to go from A to B to C to D to E to F and back to A etc.. when the department has computers. It is a monumental waste of taxpayers’ money.

    Ignore Franklyn with his stress nonsense. Apart from Policemen and nurses, no other Government employee works hard. They deserve every cent for which they work .

  15. Carson C Cadogan June 9, 2017 at 11:02 am

    That is a joke.

    Far too many workers want money but don’t want to put in an honest day’s work for their pay.

    Just take a look at some Teachers. Always out on walkabouts at the urging of the Trade Unions instead of earning their pay by teaching the Nation’s children.

  16. Biscuits June 9, 2017 at 11:16 am

    Stress is part of the working environment globally, however I have to agree (@ricci@greengiant@joan) we have a serious problem with the attitude of some employees who see ‘sick leave’ as an extension of their vacation leave. Unfortunately, a few doctors might be facilitating this…unwittingly of course.
    Let’s be real…some folks do not have an honest bone in their bodies. They go on sick leave prior to vacation and are out ‘n’ about posting left right and centre on the various social media patforms. It’s a miracle…they have recovered enough to shop-till-you-drop in Miami and showoff about it! No empathy for their fellow employees who trudge to work daily and have to shoulder their workload in their absence. There was even a lady with whom I worked, who unabashedly boasted she would be taking sick leave while renovations were being done on her house! Shame!

  17. Roadrunner June 9, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    U have work three days and still and want to a five days in three days still ,and the amount you get at the of the week and these companies have money that can pay better money to there stsgg

  18. Roadrunner June 9, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    U have work three days and still and want to a five days in three days still ,and the amount you get at the of the week and these companies have money that can pay better money to there staff

  19. Alex Alleyne June 9, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    “it’s better to wear out than to rust out”. Everyone want to WORK until they get a JOB.
    If the unions make sure it’s member put in a honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay , then all will be well. Money coming in, workers being paid well and everyone happy.

  20. Sangeane June 10, 2017 at 11:57 am

    I totally agree with Franklyn n some of u make relevant points as well. Stress is in the work place n sometimes u find an employer that’s hard to please despite your efforts to work hard n better. I had to deal with working from 7-4 without lunch on numerous occasions. Not once was I given time back r appreciated for it. I had to work 2/3 weeks straight for 6 days because someone was on holiday r sick n got nothing out of it. I find most ppl taking the leave how ever is from most govt businesses because they believe their jobs are secure. If it never happened to u, don’t think it doesn’t exist cos some work places r stressful. The work load n the treatment given. It exists. Someone mentioned stress at home, how do u deal with it, you deal with it by taking holidays, going out somewhere to relax, taking a break from it all by just doing something to distract u. Stress is all around n we all find away to deal with it in whatever way u can. So stop saying stress isn’t work related cos it is n can be. I never took sick leave n then I came down with the flu n had to take it, n u know what happened, I got fired when I went back to work. That’s just life.

  21. Unknown June 14, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    More work no more pay and not only that if you have to put up with a boss cursing n shouting n standing and watching you like you are a slave giving more orders and have to ask to go the bathroom and ask when you have a appointment instead of staying that you do thregthen your job if you don’t obey his rules it’s ridiculous staff miserable and unhappy and nobody likes to be there because of him


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