Leave cancellation practice

Dear fellow HR practitioners,

I would like to find out what is the market practice for cancellation of leave due to illness. If a staff had applied for annual leave, then before the leave started, they fall ill and want to cancel their leave and change to medical leave, does your company allow it?

For e.g., the staff is supposed to be on leave on Monday, falls ill on Sunday night and wants to cancel the annual leave and change it to medical leave.

We are thinking of 2 options:

1) Allow the cancellation as long as the annual leave has not started


2) Allow the cancellation with 1 working day notice. E.g., if a staff has 3 days MC Mon to Wed, and is supposed to be on leave on Tue & Wed, they can apply on Monday to cancel their Annual leave on Wednesday only.

Would appreciate your views and sharing of your company's practice.

We are a preschool. Thank you.




HR Poll: Which option will you suggest?

Option 1: 72.22%

Option 2: 8.33%

Neither: 18.06%

Not sure: 1.39%




Our company's practice is, if the employee is issued MC before the Annual Leave starts, we will allow the Annual Leave to be replaced by Sick Leave. However, once the Annual Leave start-date kicks in, we will not allow cancelling/change any more. - Joanne

Neither. - Agnes

Depending on how big the organisation is; I'd say option 1 works best in an organisation with 25 people or fewer. Flexibility is still manageable. Option 2 is highly recommended for more than 25 people; otherwise, it can get out of hand managing all last-minute cancellations. Hope that helps. - Halima

Allow the employee to apply for medical leave as stated in the medical certificate. - TMF

Be more flexible during this pandemic. - LCC

We allow employees to supersede with Medical Leave. - Amy

Allow the cancellation as long as the annual leave has not started. Having an open-door policy with no red tape is a way of showing people that they’re in an empathetic and open workplace. In the workplace, empathy can show a deep respect for co-workers and show that you care, as opposed to just going by rules and regulations. If employees don’t believe their management leaders have empathy for them, they’re unlikely to show empathy themselves. - Ann

There is no right or wrong but up to the discretion of the company/organisation. Most of the companies I have worked in would allow cancellation as long as the AL has not started. This is debatable - if the normal working hours are 9-6 pm and your employee informs you that he is sick and needs to be on MC at 8 am, that is also considered before the start of the AL. Sometimes some line managers are more flexible than others. - Sharon

Allow the cancellation as long as the annual leave has not started. - ACS

Allowed the employee to cancel as long as the A/L has not commenced. - Wendy

We should exercise our empathy for such cases. - KSK

As long as staff falls sick before the start of AL, our company allows them to change it to MC. - Jessica

I work in a multinational corporation and in many of the jurisdictions we act in, annual leave would be superseded by an MC, regardless of when the sick leave starts. Singapore labour law does not prescribe the treatment of the sick note during annual leave; therefore, it is at the discretion of you as an employer or may be agreed on a case-by-case depending on the individual circumstances involved. Where there are many factors, you may want to take into account in this decision. - Danielle

It can be changed only before the annual leave commences otherwise it is difficult for HR to process this kind of request. People may go on annual leave and then put MC and we will have no control over this. - Nara

We allow them to supersede the Annual Leave with the MC. - Jessica

Neither. Firstly, we need to understand that annual leave is given to staff as an entitlement, and medical leave is considered legitimate as long as it is issued by a licensed GP/clinic. As long as staff can produce the medical chit, my company respects that and will replace the Annual leave with the MC. We also prefer that so staff can preserve their leave days if indeed they were sick/unwell. As a company, we do not police the use of annual leave by staff since it is their entitlement. It is like why we do not ask staff why they apply for their annual leave, for it is precisely rightfully their leave, to attend to their personal matters. If we police such matters, why do we extend the leave entitlement in the first place? - Christina



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