An employee covered by the Employment Act is entitled to paid sick leave, including medical leave issued by a dentist if:
- The employee has served the employer for at least three months.
- The employee has informed or attempted to inform the employer of his/her absence within 48 hours. Otherwise, the employee will be deemed to be absent from work without permission or reasonable excuse.
- The sick leave is certified by the company's doctor, or by a government doctor (including doctors from approved public medical institutions).
However, where appointed company doctors are available, the employee should consult them unless the clinics are inconveniently located or in emergency situations.
The employer has the discretion to accept medical certificates from:
- A private doctor; or
- A traditional Chinese medical practitioner.
The approved public medical institutions are:
- Alexandra Hospital
- Changi General Hospital
- Institute of Mental Health / Woodbridge Hospital
- Jurong Medical Centre
- KK Women's and Children's Hospital
- Khoo Teck Puat Hospital
- National Cancer Centre
- National Dental Centre
- National Heart Centre
- National Neuroscience Institute
- National Skin Centre
- National University Hospital
- NHG Eye Institute
- Singapore General Hospital
- Singapore National Eye Centre
- Tan Tock Seng Hospital
- The Cancer Institute
- The Heart Institute
- All polyclinics under the National Healthcare Group
- All polyclinics under the Singapore Health Services.
The number of days of paid sick leave a new employee is entitled to depends on his service period:
|No of months of service completed of a new employee
||Paid Outpatient non-hospitalisation leave (days)
||Paid hospitalisation leave (days)*
||5 + 3 = 8
||15 + 15 = 30
||8 + 3 = 11
||30 + 15 = 45
||11 + 3 = 14
||45 + 15 = 60
* An employee is deemed to be hospitalised if he/she is certified by a doctor to be in need of hospitalisation. He does not necessarily have to be warded in a hospital.
Limit on total number of paid sick leave
The amount of paid outpatient and hospitalisation sick leave that an employee can take is capped at his sick leave entitlement.
For example, if an employee has already taken 14 days of outpatient sick leave in that year, the number of days of hospitalisation sick leave that he can take is 46 days (60 – 14 = 46). Likewise, for those in their 3rd, 4th and 5th month of service, the total number of days of sick leave is also capped at the respective hospitalisation leave entitlements.
Reimbursement of medical expenses
If an employee has worked for at least three months, his employer is legally obliged to bear the medical consultation fee. For other medical costs, such as medication, treatment or ward charges, the employer is obliged to bear such costs depending on the medical benefits provided for in the employee's employment contract or the collective agreement signed between the company with its union.
- From 1 April 2014, employers will not be required to grant paid sick leave and bear the medical consultation fees for employees seeking or undergoing medical treatment which, in the opinion of a medical practitioner or medical officer performing the examination, is for cosmetic purposes.
Salary to employees on sick leave
If an employee is on paid hospitalisation leave, his employer has to pay him at his gross rate of pay. If an employee is on paid outpatient sick leave, his employer has to pay him at his gross rate of pay excluding any shift allowance.
The Tripartite Review Committee on the Employment Act has recommended that shift allowance be payable under extenuating circumstances. For shift allowances which has all along been given on a monthly basis, and no deduction has been made for absence due to outpatient sick leave, such payment should continue to be paid unless the employer and the employee or the trade union representing the employees have negotiated and agreed to make variations to the existing arrangement.
Sick leave on rest days, public holidays, non-working days, and during annual leave & no-pay leave
An employee is not entitled to paid sick leave on the following occasions, even if he is given a medical leave by the doctor.
- Rest days
- Public holidays
- Non-working days
- During annual leave
- During no-pay leave
This is because the employee is not required to report for work on these days and there is therefore no necessity for him to apply for sick leave to stay away from work. However, he is entitled to claim for the medical consultation fee. His entitlement to claim for other medical expenses would depend on the medical benefits provided in his employment contract or the collective agreement signed between the company and its union.
If an employee falls sick on a half working day (e.g. Saturday)
Sick leave taken on a half working day (e.g. Saturday) should be considered as one day's sick leave.
If an employee falls sick while on annual leave
If an employee falls sick on his annual leave, his absence from work would still be treated as annual leave and not sick leave. However, his employer may cancel his annual leave and as a concession, allow him to take sick leave instead.
If an employee runs out of sick leave
If an employee is sick but has used up his/her sick leave entitlement, the employer can:
- Allow the employee to go on extended no-pay leave for an agreed period;
- Make other working arrangements that are acceptable to both parties such as re-assigning the employee's duties; or
- Obtain a medical assessment of the employee's suitability for continued employment.
If the employee is certified unfit for continued employment, the employer can terminate his/her services. In such a situation, the contract is deemed to be frustrated The employer can compensate the employee:
- Based on what is provided for in the employment contract; or
- By making an ex-gratia payment to him/her on goodwill basis.