Medical Leave In Singapore: Eligibility and Requirements

by 24 June 2024Knowledge & Insights

Medical leave is a vital aspect of employment in Singapore, ensuring employees can take time off to recover from illnesses or medical conditions without worrying about their job security or financial stability.

This comprehensive guide will delve into the eligibility criteria and requirements for medical leave in Singapore, shedding light on employees’ and employers’ rights and responsibilities.

Two Types Of Medical Leave In Singapore

In Singapore, the employment laws distinguish between two main types of medical leave: paid sick leave and paid hospitalisation leave. These two leave categories serve different purposes and come with specific eligibility criteria and entitlements.

Paid Sick Leave

The Ministry of Manpower in Singapore states that employees who have served the company for three months or more are entitled to these two types of medical leave.

What is a paid sick leave? It is typically granted when an employee is unwell but does not require hospitalisation. It allows employees to recover from minor illnesses or medical conditions without needing an extended hospital stay.

All employees are entitled to paid sick leave irrespective of their employment status. This benefit is available to full-time employees without any minimum length of service requirement.

Part-time employees can also take advantage of paid sick leave, but the amount they receive may be adjusted based on their working hours compared to full-time employees.
Temporary employees may also be eligible for paid sick leave, but the terms and conditions of their employment contracts will determine their eligibility.

Paid Hospitalisation Leave

This type of medical leave is granted when an employee’s medical condition necessitates hospitalisation or surgical intervention. It is designed to support employees who require extended medical care and hospital stays.

All full-time, part-time, or temporary employees may be eligible for paid hospitalisation leave. However, the eligibility criteria and entitlements may vary based on their employment contracts.

Full-time employees are typically entitled to paid hospitalisation leave after a minimum length of service, such as three months.

Part-time employees can also qualify for paid hospitalisation leave, subject to the same prorated entitlements as paid sick leave, and may require a minimum service length.

Temporary employees may be eligible for paid hospitalisation leave, but their entitlements and eligibility criteria may differ based on their employment contracts.

Eligibility Criteria For Medical Leave Singapore

Singapore’s inclusive approach ensures that various employment categories can access this essential benefit. Employers consider three things when determining medical leave eligibility: employee category, length of employment, and documentation.

Employee Categories

Singapore’s medical leave policies extend their protective umbrella to a broad spectrum of employees, promoting inclusivity in healthcare support. Here are the primary categories of employees who are eligible for medical leave:

  • Full-time Employees: Full-time employees engaged in permanent positions with regular working hours are eligible for medical leave under the Employment Act. Their commitment to their roles is rewarded with access to this critical benefit.
  • Part-time Employees: Singapore recognises that part-time employees also face health challenges and may need time off to recover. Part-time employees can avail themselves of medical leave benefits, albeit with entitlements adjusted proportionally to their working hours compared to full-time employees.
  • Temporary Employees: Temporary employees, often engaged for specific projects or short-term assignments, are not excluded from medical leave entitlements. However, eligibility for such employees may be subject to specific terms and conditions stipulated in their employment contracts.

Length Of Employment

While the concept of eligibility based on tenure is relatively uniform across employers, specific probationary periods may vary.

Generally, full-time employees become eligible for medical leave benefits after completing their probationary period, typically three months.

Part-time and temporary employees may need to serve a specific duration as stipulated in their employment contracts before accessing medical leave benefits.

Documentation Required To Establish Eligibility

Establishing eligibility for medical leave necessitates proper documentation. Employees are required to submit a Medical Certificate (MC) issued by registered medical practitioners in Singapore. This document proves the employee’s medical condition and is necessary for medical leave.

To establish eligibility:

  • Employees should seek medical attention from registered healthcare professionals within Singapore.
  • The obtained MC should include essential details such as the date of examination, the diagnosis, the expected duration of the medical condition, and the registration details or clinic stamp of the issuing medical practitioner.

Meeting these documentation requirements is pivotal in ensuring a smooth application process and safeguarding the employee’s right to medical leave.

In cases where employees provide fraudulent or manipulated medical certificates to justify their leave, it can be considered a severe form of medical leave abuse in Singapore. This disrupts the workplace and undermines trust between employees and employers.

Employees need to note that employers have the right to take disciplinary action against employees found to be abusing medical leave privileges.


Duration And Entitlements

How many medical leaves are allowed per year in Singapore? The duration of paid sick leave can vary depending on factors such as the employee’s length of service and the specific company policies.

Full-time employees may be entitled to up to 14 days of paid sick leave per year. This entitlement can increase with longer service periods. Part-time and temporary employees’ entitlements are typically prorated based on their working hours.

Meanwhile, the duration of paid hospitalisation leave is typically more generous than that of paid sick leave. It can cover the period of hospitalisation and recovery.

Employees are usually entitled to up to 60 days of paid hospitalisation leave per year. Full entitlement may be granted to employees who have worked for six months or more.

For new hires, their paid medical leaves are prorated, depending on the length of employment. Those who have been with the company for at least three months are entitled to 5 paid sick leave and 15 paid hospitalisation leave. The duration increases per month.


Notification And Application Process

According to the Employment Act, employees must notify their employers within 48 hours or as soon as possible when they need medical leave. The notification process may include informing the immediate supervisor or HR department.

Employees must submit their medical leave applications within specific deadlines, as company policies stipulate.

On the other hand, employers are responsible for processing medical leave requests promptly and fairly. They should also ensure that employees’ rights are upheld during this process.

Pregnancy-Related Medical Leave

The Child Development Co-Savings Act (CDCSA) stipulates the entitlement to maternity leave for eligible female employees. Under this act, female employees in Singapore are entitled to 4 weeks of maternity leave before childbirth and 12 weeks after childbirth.

Prenatal Medical Leave

During pregnancy, expectant mothers may face various challenges, from morning sickness to routine medical check-ups. Prenatal medical leave is designed to grant pregnant employees the necessary time off to attend these appointments and manage pregnancy-related discomforts.

Eligible employees can start their prenatal leave four weeks before their expected delivery date. To apply for prenatal leave, they must notify the employer at least one week prior.

It is also necessary to submit a Government Paid Maternity Leave form and provide valid medical certificates (MCs) with the dates of their medical appointments.

Postnatal Medical Leave

Postnatal medical leave is a vital aspect of pregnancy-related medical leave benefits, enabling new mothers to recover from childbirth and attend to their newborn’s needs. It acknowledges this crucial phase’s physical and emotional demands, allowing mothers to gradually transition back to work when ready.

Postnatal medical leave starts right after the birth of the child. Mothers can use this leave for 12 weeks. Those who require a leave extension must inform the employer immediately and must submit a medical certificate that explains their medical condition and the necessity of the extension.

Miscarriage Medical Leave

Singapore’s medical leave policies cover maternity leave in special situations. However, there are no specific guidelines for employees who experience a miscarriage. Women who experience this are not eligible for maternity leave.

While there is no miscarriage medical leave in Singapore, employees are still entitled to use their sick leaves and annual leaves to cover the period of recovery and any medical appointments related to the miscarriage.

Some companies also offer compassionate leave or provide additional support, such as flexible work arrangements or counselling services, to help employees cope during this difficult time.


Employee Rights During A Medical Leave

Employees in Singapore have certain rights during their medical leave, including protection against termination and discrimination. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against or dismissing employees solely because they have taken medical leave.

Employees who believe their medical leave rights have been violated can seek legal recourse through mediation, the Employment Claims Tribunal (ECT), or legal action.

These rights ensure that employees can access medical leave without fear of adverse consequences, promoting both individual well-being and a fair work environment.


Conclusion About Medical Leave In Singapore

Medical leave in Singapore isn’t just an employment benefit; it’s a basic right that supports employee well-being and fairness. It shows the country’s dedication to a work culture where people can take medical leave without worries, promoting health and harmony.

If you are facing any medical leave-related disputes or corporate issues, Tembusu Law is available to provide assistance. Our corporate and commercial lawyers can help ensure that both employees and employers are well-informed and protected. Schedule a consultation today!


Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Leave In Singapore

Can I Take Medical Leave For Non-Work-Related Illnesses Or Injuries?

Yes, you can take medical leave for both work-related and non-work-related illnesses or injuries. Singapore’s medical leave provisions cover a wide range of medical conditions.

Can I Carry Forward Unused Medical Leave To The Next Year?

The rules regarding the carry-forward of unused medical leave can vary between employers and may be outlined in the employment contract or company policies. It’s essential to check your specific entitlements with your employer.

Can I Use Medical Leave For Mental Health Issues Or Stress-Related Conditions?

Yes, medical leave can be used for mental health issues or stress-related conditions if a registered medical practitioner diagnoses and certifies your condition. Mental health is treated with the same consideration as physical health when it comes to medical leave entitlements.

Can I Request An Extension Of My Medical Leave If I’m Not Fully Recovered By The End Of The Certified Period?

If your medical condition persists beyond the certified period on your medical certificate, you should consult with your medical practitioner for an extension. You can request an updated medical certificate to reflect the extended duration of your medical leave.

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