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Firms with attendance incentives tied to sick leave may face ‘enforcement action’ from 2023: MOM

Firms with attendance incentives tied to sick leave may face ‘enforcement action’ from 2023: MOM

An elderly cleaner seen in Singapore's Central Business District. (File Photo: CNA/Calvin Oh)

SINGAPORE: From next year, companies that continue to have attendance-related incentive schemes that consider employees' use of sick leave could face "enforcement action", including a suspension of work pass privileges, Senior Minister of State for Manpower Koh Poh Koon said in Parliament on Monday (Feb 28). 

"The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) will engage and advise employers who still continue with such schemes to stop doing so," he said.

"If they continue with the practice, TAFEP will recommend to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to take enforcement action." 

Dr Koh was replying to a parliamentary question by Member of Parliament Louis Ng (PAP-Nee Soon) about whether the Government will stop companies from issuing an attendance bonus, which can be a disincentive for employees taking medical leave when they are ill.

Incentives for workers who do not take medical leave made the news recently after a pest control technician was jailed for refusing a COVID-19 swab test because he did not want to forfeit a monthly work incentive.

"The Tripartite Committee on Workplace Fairness is deliberating on the scope and design of legislation to enshrine the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices (TGFEP) in law," said Dr Koh. 

"The key objective of this new legislation is to provide a strong statement against workplace discrimination and broaden the range of actions that can be taken when workplace discrimination on the basis of characteristics such as age, nationality or race occurs." 

Together with tripartite partners, MOM adopts a "range of approaches" such as guidelines and education that are effective in addressing various workplace issues, added Dr Koh. 

"It is not necessary to rely on legislation as a solution to every workplace issue." 

Dr Koh also highlighted an earlier response by MOM explaining that TGFEP already requires employers to "appraise and remunerate employees in a fair and objective manner", taking into consideration the employees’ performance and contributions.

Attendance-related incentive schemes may have emerged over time as a way to help "deter malingering and instil a more disciplined workforce", Manpower Minister Tan See Leng had said on Feb 14. 

"While they may have been created with these outcomes in mind, the tripartite partners are of the view that attendance-related schemes that consider sick leave utilisation should no longer be seen as a reasonable or fair practice," he said then.

Dr Koh added: "Attendance-related incentive schemes that consider sick leave utilisation are contrary to this principle. Companies should therefore review and make adjustments where necessary."

Source: CNA/gy(gs)


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