Photo of Lim Swee Say from gettyimages

Following a complaint by anonymous Singapore Airlines (SIA) employees over an incentive system that penalises them on the number of sick leaves they take, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) responded subtly saying they approve such practices:

“Employers should avoid penalising an employee solely based on his consumption of sick leave. Employers should adopt appraisal or performance management systems which are fair, objective, and which take into consideration the employee’s ability, performance and contributions. Paid sick and hospitalisation leave is a basic protection under the Employment Act and is also a core benefit in collective agreements… employers should avoid penalising an employee solely based on his consumption of sick leave.”

The MOM refused to investigate SIA for employment rights infringement over the demerit system. According to SIA employees, everyone starts with a 10 point each year and lose points on each medical leave taken in the year. The points will then form part of the appraisal and affects bonuses, promotions and contract renewals.

MOM added that if employees are unhappy, they should talk to their employers or the ministry if they want. However no action will be taken:

“All employers are to communicate their employment and work-related terms and benefits to employees clearly to avoid any misunderstanding. Employees who feel that they have been unfairly penalised for taking sick leave can approach the ministry for advice and assistance.”

A 38-year-old air stewardess died in her hotel last week as she continued working despite being sick. The news prompted the SIA employees to voice their unhappiness to the media albeit anonymously.