Don't dictate sick leave, MOM tells employers

 Patients waiting inside SingHealth polyclinic at Tampines. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has told employers not to influence doctors to give injured workers less sick leave than they need. -- ST FILE PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN
 Patients waiting inside SingHealth polyclinic at Tampines. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has told employers not to influence doctors to give injured workers less sick leave than they need. -- ST FILE PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN

MOM reminds them not to request less leave than is needed for injured workers

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has told employers not to influence doctors to give injured workers less sick leave than they need.

The e-mail reminder which went out to 28,000 workplace safety and health practitioners on July 11 follows an earlier reminder by MOM and the Health Ministry telling all doctors to give injured workers appropriate medical leave.

The ministries acted after complaints that some workers were getting too little leave so that their employers could avoid reporting accidents to MOM.

All accidents where a worker dies or is given more than three consecutive days of medical leave must be reported.

MOM's bulletin to employers said: "You should not request medical practitioners (to) prescribe less than the requisite length of medical sick leave or issue light duties instead in order to avoid incident reporting."

It also points out that doctors have been asked to report employers who try to influence how much medical leave workers should be given.

Groups helping migrant workers have long reported a steady stream of workers given fewer than four days of sick leave by private hospitals and clinics that their employers take them to.

Unable to work and in pain, many then seek treatment at restructured hospitals, only to receive weeks or even months off for the same injuries.

A spokesman for construction and civil engineering conglomerate Koh Brothers, Mr David Tay, acknowledged that there were some "bad eggs" in the industry. "But we should not use the same brush to tarnish all employers," he said.

The errant ones were likely to be small firms, he said, urging them to be more "humane" towards injured workers.

"If they don't do so, workers may be unmotivated and jump ship, and the company will eventually lose out both in terms of productivity and costs," he said.

Singapore Contractors Association Limited's (Scal) president Ho Nyok Yong said most of its 2,500 members are law-abiding. "But Scal is concerned about the recent government reminders. We will advise all our members to respect the professional judgment of doctors," he said.

radhab@sph.com.sg