The Manpower Ministry (MOM) has said it will take appropriate action against beleaguered clinic chain operator Healthway Medical Group if it fails to fulfil its basic obligation to pay all its employees.
As of the end of last week, Healthway's doctors and senior management had not received their February pay.
Although Healthway is one of the largest private clinic chains in Singapore, with close to 100 clinics and about 1,200 corporate clients, it has been plunged into disarray after losing millions of dollars over the years to questionable investments.
On Monday, there were no doctors at seven of its family clinics after Healthway said it had not paid February salaries amounting to $3.9 million.
Following a report by The Straits Times, MOM officials paid a visit to Healthway's office on Tuesday to find out more about the situation.
The ministry told ST in a statement: "MOM has reminded Healthway of its obligation to pay salaries to all its employees. We note that (Healthway Medical Group) is taking action to resolve this issue.
"MOM will take appropriate action if Healthway fails to fulfil this basic obligation expected of an employer."
Under the Employment Act, employers can be charged if they do not pay their workers within seven days after the last day of the salary period. But the law does not cover doctors and executives who earn more than $4,500 a month.
The ministry said it was informed by Healthway that only doctors and senior management had not been paid, whereas "all other employees such as receptionists and clinic assistants have been paid their salaries on time, in line with the Employment Act".
MOM added that from April 1, those who do not come under the Employment Act can approach the new Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) for assistance if they have salary claims.
"Before TADM is operational, doctors, professionals, managers and executives can also approach MOM for mediation assistance on a voluntary basis," it said.
Meanwhile, Make Health Connect, the third-party administrator for 39 Healthway clinics, has made $600,000 in advance payments to Healthway to cover doctors from 39 clinics for two months, after learning about the group's cash crunch.
Asked what it has done since the MOM visit, a Healthway spokesman said: "Only payment to a few locums is left and we are in the process of settling that."