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Ministry Of Manpower Of Singapore To Take A Strong Stand Against No Sick Leave Incentives

As per Ministry of Manpower, Employers in Singapore are paying additional rewards for rejecting medical leave, or even penalising those who make use of it.

Ministry Of Manpower Of Singapore To Take A Strong Stand Against No Sick Leave Incentives

Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has expressed its opinion on incentive systems that either penalise employees for taking sick leave, or reward them when they don’t. On 14 February, Tan See Leng, Manpower Minister, stated in a parliamentary session that such programs, which are popular in low-wage occupations, “should no longer be considered as a legitimate or fair practice.”

Employers in Singapore have largely pushed under the table the topic of paying additional rewards to workers who reject medical leave, or even penalising those who make use of it.  This behaviour is not subject to any regulations or rules, and MOM does not collect data on it. In his legislative response, Dr. Tan theorised that the practice may have evolved as a kind of deterrence for malingering but noted that it is ineffective when it harms the well-being of workers.

Over the last two years, the practice has come under increased scrutiny as fears arose that low-wage employees would evade COVID testing and the resulting quarantine to protect their income if positive. In fact, it made the news last month when a 60-year-old worker was sentenced to jail for failing to stay home and take a COVID test after having a cough for several weeks as he didn’t want to miss out on a $100 incentive to reject medical leave.

The minister said that MOM aims to “clarify” to stakeholders and employers, including trade and industry organisations, that this practice violates current fair employment norms.

Dr. Tan also added that as a general rule, if an employee is ill, medical assistance should be sought, first for their own well-being and that of coworkers, and that attendance incentive programs which discourage taking medical leave, even if unintentionally, they undermine the overriding ideal of protecting workers’ well-being.

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