Coronavirus: Public healthcare institutions to help staff get refunds, pay all costs incurred for cancelled travel plans

Healthcare workers at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, on Jan 30, 2020. healthcare workers in public hospitals have had their annual leave frozen so that hospitals can handle a higher-than-expected volume of patients.
Healthcare workers at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, on Jan 30, 2020. healthcare workers in public hospitals have had their annual leave frozen so that hospitals can handle a higher-than-expected volume of patients.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Public healthcare institutions will be helping their employees get refunds for travel and holiday arrangements they had to forgo when their leave was cancelled as a result of the evolving coronavirus situation.

If a refund is not possible, the institutions will help defray all the costs incurred by the workers.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) and National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) outlined this in a joint statement on Thursday (Feb 13).

The tripartite partners noted that healthcare workers in public hospitals have had their annual leave frozen so that hospitals could handle a higher-than-expected volume of patients.

"Some healthcare workers whose leave was earlier approved also had their leave cancelled and they had to cancel air tickets and other holiday bookings they had made," they said.

With this in mind, several measures have been agreed on after the Healthcare Services Employees' Union (HSEU) raised concerns to the public healthcare institutions as well as the tripartite partners.

Among the measures, public healthcare institutions will provide their healthcare workers with a letter of proof of an employer's cancellation of leave to support them in seeking refunds from travel agents and in making claims to insurance companies.

If the travel agent or travel insurance company is not able to offer a full refund or claim, the public healthcare institutions will help defray the costs incurred by the workers instead.

A spokesman for HSEU said that healthcare workers will be fully reimbursed by public healthcare institutions if they are unsuccessful in getting reimbursement from travel agencies.

The institutions will address reimbursement requests for healthcare workers' family members on a case by case basis to ensure all other means and appeals with the travel agents are exhausted.

 
 

Healthcare workers who face difficulties with their refund claims can approach HSEU directly for assistance, the statement said.

The tripartite partners also urged all organisations, especially travel agents and insurance companies, to give healthcare workers more support and consideration during this period.