Firms, employees in Singapore make good use of paid leave in a year of no travel

Many employees in Singapore found themselves not having made full use of their annual leave due to the pandemic.
Many employees in Singapore found themselves not having made full use of their annual leave due to the pandemic.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - With leisure travel grinding to a halt amid the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, many employees in Singapore found themselves in the strange position - perhaps for the first time - of not having made full use of their annual leave.

While these unused vacation days may have been wiped off in other years, some organisations have allowed employees to carry over their leave days to the next year.

Others yet have come up with other means to ensure that their employees' paid leave days do not go to waste.

Employees at Nanyang Technological University donated a collective 20,145 days of annual leave towards student aid and endowments.

The donated leave days, courtesy of over 1,800 employees, are worth about $10.25 million. Each employee donated an average of 11 leave days.

OCBC Bank adjusted its leave policy in 2020, allowing employees to carry forward additional leave days to 2021.

The bank's staff are usually able to carry forward seven days, but have been permitted to do so for 12 days in 2020 or choose to encash up to five days of their annual leave.

In June last year, the Singapore workers of tech giant Micron raised a total of $1.88 million through the firm's employee donation matching programme.

This included both cash donations and the exchange of paid annual leave for monetary donations.

The raised funds were distributed to five charities, including The Food Bank Singapore.

Meanwhile, civil servants were given a longer period to clear their unused leave and the option to encash part of it this year.

The unprecedented move allows some 85,000 civil servants to carry forward half of their annual leave from 2019 into 2021, if the leave was not used by the end of 2020.

Normally, civil servants' unused leave from a previous year would be forfeited, meaning that 2019's leave days could only have been carried forward into 2020, but not 2021.

Their remaining leave - after carrying forward half of 2019's vacation days to 2021 - can be cashed in.

Public healthcare workers have been allowed to encash or carry forward unused leave from 2019 into 2021.

Up to a third of their unused paid leave days from 2020 can be converted to cash or brought forward to 2021 as well.