HR Community Discussions

Excessive Medical Leave


Dear HR Professionals,

Does anyone have experience with employees who have taken excessive MC? (Average of 2 days per month) Since MC is an entitlement that we are technically allowed up to a maximum of 14 days, how do we convey to the staff that this is not right and can we penalise her? There is a suspicion that she may not be genuinely sick as she has not gone for any medical consultation (beyond the GP) regarding her condition.

Thank you!




Reply 1

Employees have 14 days of sick leave, and this is their entitlement under the law. Hence, clearance of 14 days of sick leave should not be labelled as 'excessive'.

Moreover, as long as the employee produces a medical certificate (MC), HR has to recognise it as long as it is issued by medical practitioners in Singapore. HR has not right to question the validity of the MC.

Besides these legal obligations, what HR can do is to have a honest discussion with the employee about the "medical fit" of the employee. Should the employee reply that he/she has a medical issue but is not sure, HR can suggest sending the employee for a full medical/health check up, and HR pays for the cost. In this case, HR can ask for the medical report (with employee consent) to ascertain the medical fitness of the employee. From there, HR can then follow up with a discussion with the employee after this full medical/health check.

Hope this clarifies.




Reply 2

Under the Employment Act, we cannot doubt them if they produce a MC. Unless you have evidence to prove otherwise. However on a work performance point of view, definitely that is a minus point. That's my view.




Reply 3

First of all, we need to understand that medical professional/doctor is the one who certify a person’s health not the Employer. Of course, employers should treat “sick” employees with compassion, patience, tact and careful handling as it is P&C cum sensitive..

In the past, we have an upfront chat [cum check] with the concerned employees if there was a new or non-declared medical condition that was affecting employee’s health and our concern on employee’s monthly MC. We made it clear it was pure health concern and showed wiling how we could be of help. This employee gave “reasons” and after that chat [cum check] no more “monthly MCs pattern”. We did sent an employee for a full medical check-up to go it sorted put.

Before that chat [cum check] HR did a summary of detailed of MC dates, visited same or different clinic/s and doctors. HR & HOD jointly met up with employee.

Yes, there may be situations whereby an employer assesses an employee to be too ill for the job, and where excessive or repeated absence adversely impacts the company's work and must be based on relevant and objective performance criteria. It has to be addressed with the concerned employee after 3-month repeated occurrence of high MCs.
Termination of employment is a very serious matter which has wide-ranging implications for an employee. It should only be done after very careful consideration by employers,. and should not terminate employment just for taking sick leave. However In such situations, the employer can terminate employment after giving due notice or pay in lieu of notice.




Reply 4

You may not want to bring across to the employee as negative or penalize her first. HR or the department head can bring this up to her by showing concern on how she is doing/coping and if the company can help. While at the back, you may contact the clinic (if is under the Company panel) for more details. Or, does the MC even write the diagnosis?

“There is a suspicion that she may not be genuinely sick as she has not gone for any medical consultation (beyond the GP) regarding her condition”. Avoid assuming. It could even be she was worried about work and having to take constant leave/long leave to address the root of the problem?




Reply 5

We are in the manufacturing business. Its common trend that people in this sector to fully ‘utilize ‘ the medical leave .Of course you cannot penalize them on the 14 days of they happen to be genuinely unwell and would need to accept the medical cert, on face value it has been issued by a GP who has certified him or her sick.

However I had made observations for a good 3 years and the picked out the ‘usual suspects ‘ who have been reporting sick for 14 days and taking unpaid leave in addition to that. I sat them down and asked them what is actually the medical ailment that’s affecting their health year on year.

Didn’t issue a warning or anything like that but a letter stating that we noticed you have reported repeated sick for 14 days for 3 years in a row and unpaid blab la and would appreciate a meeting with HR to discuss this situation. The idea was to find out if they were really grappling with a health issue or was it a bad habit of absenteeism with poor motivation. The former we will offer them a medical check for free if need be. With some the situation will improve but the hard-core ones will continue with their informed rights. You will simply need to look at the overall performance of that person.

S Ismail



Reply 6

First step would be for HR to have a talk with the employee as a way of showing concern on the frequent MCs taken i.e the employee health. If no improvement, 2nd step would be to send employee to company doctor or appointed doctor for a medical review on the health condition especially if the the MCs issued are normally for same medical condition.

Normally at this stage, if the employee is genuinely sick they will go for the medical checkup but for those not genuinely sick would have improve their MCs by now.

Lastly the performance will be affected.



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