NMP Irene Quay: Encourage employers to allow up to 3 days’ sick leave without needing to produce MC

This builds trust and boosts morale.

Joshua Lee | November 21, 2018 @ 10:57 am

A Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) wants the government to encourage employers to allow employees to take up to three non-consecutive days of sick leave without medical certificates (MCs) per year.

KK Hospital Chief pharmacist Irene Quay was speaking at a November 20 Parliamentary sitting on a bill to amend the Employment Act, which, among other things, seeks to mandate that employers recognise MCs issued by all doctors.

Many benefits from this practice

Quay, who is also the President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Singapore, said that recognising sick leave without MC has many tangible benefits like not wasting time on queueing up for an MC, reducing the risk of contagion, and reducing the exacerbation of illness.

Organisations can also save on “unnecessary medical claims” from employees who need to get MCs for simple viral infections.

Aside from that, this move, according to Quay, signals trust between employer and employee:

“Allowing employees to take up to three non consecutive days of sick leave per year without MC will display a strong signal of trust and partnership between employers and employees. It will also create better accountability and higher morale among staff because the system had showed them that their employers trust them.”

While such a practice is not prohibited in the Employment Act, Quay suggests that the government mandate it in law so that more employers embrace it:

“In fact, some healthcare clusters and civil service organisations have already implemented this practice for many years, but there is a need for MOM to mandate it in the Act so that these benefits can be accelerated across the nation, rather than to let nature take its course.”

She also suggested creating “controls such as audit and provisions” to prevent people from abusing this trust system. However, Quay also noted that the benefits from this practice outweigh the “small number of abuse cases”.

Josephine Teo: This leads to higher business costs for companies

In response, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said that controls like audits add to business costs for companies. However, according to a report on Channel NewsAsia, she added that companies are free to embrace such a practice should they want to:

“As the Employment Act does not prohibit employers from [recognising sick leave without MC], progressive companies are free to go ahead to offer this as part of their talent attraction and retention strategies.”

Top image via SingHealth.

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