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Medical leave, insurance etc.

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lilai
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Medical leave, insurance etc.

Postby lilai » Fri, 14 Nov 2008 10:40 am

Hi all,

having opend up a branch office here in Singapore I encounter now a few unsolved issues in the day to day running and would greatly appreciate any advice.

- our staff has 16 days "medical leave". What is that really? Does that mean they can go for a doctors appointment during that time? Or are this the days that they are "allowed" to be sick (I mean an illness might not be aware that it is allowed to last only 16 days...) ? If they take sick leave, do they have to bring a certificate from the doctor? Or simply ask for it beforehand?

- health insurance. We were told that the basic medical insurance that companies normally provied here is an insurance for hospitalisation only. Is this correct? We were told that most people have a private health insurance as well, but it seems that this one also doesnt cover normal medical costs when they go to see a doctor. Is this correct or does the company usually provide a second medical insurance that covers GP costs? (we are talking small business here, not multinational group)

- unpaid leave. It seems to be quite normal that people call for or request unpaid leave. Now is this indeed common and legal? Since unpaid leave seems to be something that doesnt have to be granted from the company, can pleople simply take unpaid leave without having it approved first?

Thanks a lot

Lilai

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sundaymorningstaple
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Re: Medical leave, insurance etc.

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Fri, 14 Nov 2008 3:14 pm

Oh Boy, where do I start? :?


lilai wrote:Hi all,

having opend up a branch office here in Singapore I encounter now a few unsolved issues in the day to day running and would greatly appreciate any advice.

You waited till you opened up an office before doing your possible cost projections? How did you determine what your worst case scenario net profit would be? Nevermind, that's your problem.

- our staff has 16 days "medical leave". What is that really? Does that mean they can go for a doctors appointment during that time? Or are this the days that they are "allowed" to be sick (I mean an illness might not be aware that it is allowed to last only 16 days...) ? If they take sick leave, do they have to bring a certificate from the doctor? Or simply ask for it beforehand?

By law you are required to provide 14 days Medical Leave to all of your employees every year. If unused, it may not be carried forward. However, the are not allowed to take any Medical Leave during the first 6 months of employment (that has recently been under discussion to make it only the first 3 months so that it is inline with the average annual leave & probation lengths. It is not yet finalized however so it is still 6 months) There is nothing stopping any company from giving more Medical Leave, but they cannot give less than the minimum as gazetted by Singapore Law.

Additionally, they have to be seen by a Singapore Government Polyclinic or Hospital and get a Medical Certificate from the Doctor (usually and the end of the visit). If an employer wants to accept a Medical Cert from a private GP or even TCM they can but at the minimum they MUST accept the Official MC. They are required to submit the Medical Cert from the doctor to the employer in order to enjoy the Paid Medial Leave. Additionally, by law, if they are hospitalized they have up to 60 days of Hospitalization Leave (paid) with is inclusive of the 14 days Medical Leave (outpatient). So if the employee takes all of their Medical Leave entitlement of 14 days then the most Hospitalization leave they could take is 46 days. The employer is required by Singapore Law to give these.

- health insurance. We were told that the basic medical insurance that companies normally provied here is an insurance for hospitalisation only. Is this correct? Yes We were told that most people have a private health insurance as well, but it seems that this one also doesnt cover normal medical costs when they go to see a doctor. Is this correct or does the company usually provide a second medical insurance that covers GP costs? (we are talking small business here, not multinational group)

Most small companies offer a Hospitalization or a Hospitalization & Surgical policy and it's often partially subsidized by the employee as part of a group policy. This depends solely on the employer as it is not fixed by law with the exception of instances of foreign workers where a certain level must be provided at the employers cost as part of the employment package. This came into effect around the end of 2007 (October seems to ring a bell at the moment). Singapore Citizens also have their Medisave accounts as part of their CPF accounts. Others may purchase outside their employment and CPF accounts but I think you will find the average rank and file employee does not.

- unpaid leave. It seems to be quite normal that people call for or request unpaid leave. Now is this indeed common and legal? Since unpaid leave seems to be something that doesnt have to be granted from the company, can pleople simply take unpaid leave without having it approved first?

This is the scourge of every service organization as it caused massive scheduling headaches. (I work in a pure service industry). Generally, you must give 24 hours notice if you want to take unpaid leave. The law provides for termination of an employee with cause if 2 consecutive days are missed without notification. If an employee takes a lot of unpaid leave without proper notice and does it regularly then you give the employee written warning and if it continues, you fire them with cause. This is a big problem that seems to be endemic to Singaporeans & Malaysians but not so much the other nationalities here on work permits/passes. Legal? Well, no, you can fire them for it, if they apply for it and it is denied and they take it anyway, unless it's an emergency you have grounds for dismissal.


Thanks a lot

Lilai


I would suggest that you download a copy of the Employment Act ASAP and READ IT.

The Employment Act
eGuide to the Employment Act

You may also want to do some reading on the Central Provident Fund (CPF) as well so here is a good link for that:

The Employers CPF Handbook

SMS

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Postby lilai » Fri, 14 Nov 2008 4:08 pm

Dear Sundaymorningstaple,

I sincerely thank you for your advice.

Maybe next time you could soften your presumptuous tone a bit if you take into consideration that beeing in a foreign country where everyone (expecially the employees) tells you something different can be quite confusing, therefore my desire to get some other opinions here.

How did you get the idea that I didn't do my cost projections beforehand? Of couse I did. I am familiar with the CPF regulations and payed them for my staff the last two months.

I had read the employment act before employing people, I read it now again, thanks and I understand it better now.

When I asked my staff to give me a medical certificate for their medical leave they gave me the impression that I asked them for something very unusual that was why I wanted to verify the correct situation here.

As well - as I stated before - I did insure our people. We state in our contracts that we offer them basic medical care and a member of staff (that didn't read the insurance papers I handed to her when we insured her) and I had a discussion over what "basic medical care" means. From the information I had obtained before comming to Singapore and which was verified by the insurance agent, it means in Singapore a heath insurance that covers surgery. We are a small operation and can't afford any extras at the moment so I was a surprised that this morning, when one of my staff wanted to claim back some medical fees and I told her that this wasn't covered by our insurance, the lady insisted that it would be the norm that singaporean companies pay for an additional insurance that covers seeing the GP etc.

Staff acted as well as if they have a right to unpaid leave and if it is goes without saying that it is granted if they just leave a note with the admin assistant or call her.

Since I am drawing up some company regulations regarding this things to clarify the company procedure for the staff I want to make sure beforehand that I understand it right and that we are neither too lax nor too harsh on our staff

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Fri, 14 Nov 2008 5:56 pm

Lilai,

Presumptuous? I'm sorry you feel that way as I bothered to take time out of my work day to give you advice based on the incomplete information you gave. I thought that as a foreigner opening a business here, you would have hired someone locally to take care of your HR functions as you, not being local, may well not have known about these things. That is why most companies (both large and small) hire local HR staff or if the office is very small a combined Accts/HR person. Therefore I had to assume that you had no local person. You also did not give any indication how long you have been open or any other information except that which I addressed. As you did not seem to know about Medical Leave & Unpaid leave, I had to guess you did not know about the other government requirements as well hence my giving you the link to the CPF board. I based my furnishing of additional information on the fact that it appeared you just opened and still had not hired back-end support staff. It also appeared that if you did not know about the down time each employee is entitled to it would be hard to figure out a worse case scenario when it comes to productivity loss due to maximum absence figures.

I try to address information based on the info we are given. I, like most people, am not a mind reader.

Nonetheless, I wish you good luck with your business and your stay here.

sms

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Postby Winxkid » Wed, 19 Nov 2008 2:28 am

To save cost and time, You might wanna consider engaging employment agencies like Kellyservices or RecruitExpress(etc) to help You run the show.

The culture in Singapore
Yes, if employees apply for leave under medical leaves, employees will need supporting document like Medical certificate or eq. If not, You may take it that they are missing-in-action and deduct a day's pay. Medical appointments are not used as medical leaves in Singapore, well, it depends on who the boss is, of course.

Health Insurance helps You to save unnecessary trouble in case something happens to Your employee. Juz get a simple one will do.

Unpaid leaves -
set the rules. Make them understand. For unpaid leaves, how many days of advance notice are they required to provide and in case where rules are bend, what is the action. Safeguard yourselves.

Set a HR policy, get the employment expertises to run through the policy.

Save your arse, and make them work. :D

Of course, it's pretty hard to get things started. If You have some spare cash, engage the experts :D
petsgdirectory.blogspot.com

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Postby kiringal » Wed, 25 Feb 2009 11:32 pm

Yup.. I agree.. Using recruitment company is easier as you are in unfamilar grounds. I recommend Capita. I have engage their services, and find them professional and efficient.

For health insurance, medical costs is high in Singapore. Personally, i feel you should get good coverage for you and your employees.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 26 Feb 2009 10:00 am

kiringal,

I hate to being the third moderator who has had his attention piqued by what seems to be a not too clever advertising gambit. You register, dredge up four dead threads to try to prompt our readers to PM you and then recommend a little known recruitment company with a brand new website.

Additionally, while you claim you are from Australia, your brand of English is very localized with grammatical errors like "I have engage their", "medical costs is high" and "you are in unfamilar grounds".

Oh, and for the rest of our readers information, Capita, while it is does have a license to operate as a recruitment agency along with 1100+ other licensed agencies here, IT IS NOT an accredited agency (at least as of 10 February 2009). Their website indicates a presence here since 2004 which may very well be a fabrication as they did not receive their initial license here until the 7th of April 2008. They haven't even had their license for one year yet. If YOU are from Oz then there is the possibility of a Capita in Australia who, like Robt. Walters & others have recently opened up here and are trying to get established or they have bought out another agency and trying to flog off the old agency's existence as their own here.

So. I believe today's flurry of posts will probably be your last as the next time I see one from you asking for our readers to contact you or you recommending that company for which I have a strong suspicion you are working for, it may well result in a locking of your account.

Capisce?

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