Working During Medical Leave


Can employees work during medical leave? Or voluntarily cancel their medical leave if they feel well enough to work? What if they got injured while working?


Can employees work during medical leave?

At HRSINGAPORE, we understand that questions about medical leave and work can be complex and nuanced. To address your query:

In general, employees are not expected to work during their medical leave. The primary purpose of medical leave is to allow employees the necessary time to recover from their illness or injury without the pressures of work. This is a standard practice aligned with the intent of medical leave provisions in most jurisdictions, including Singapore.

In Singapore, the Employment Act stipulates that an employer should not require an employee to work during his/her period of medical leave. If an employee is found working for another employer during a paid sick leave period, it could be considered a breach of their employment contract with the primary employer, leading to potential disciplinary actions.

However, there might be situations where an employee feels well enough to work or chooses to work from home during their medical leave. Legally, this remains a grey area and largely depends on the mutual agreement between the employer and the employee, keeping in mind the employee’s health and well-being as a priority.

Employers need to have clear policies regarding working during medical leave, including any permissible work-from-home arrangements, to ensure there’s no misunderstanding. Employers should also consider the implications of such arrangements on the employee’s entitlement to medical leave benefits.

For detailed guidance on developing policies related to medical leave and understanding the legal implications, you might consider consulting HRSINGAPORE’s HR Consultancy Services. Additionally, staying informed through our HRLAW Seminars or HR Training courses could be beneficial for navigating these issues effectively.

Remember that it’s always important to prioritise employees’ health and safety while considering the business’s operational needs. If you’re looking for more specific advice or have further questions, subscribe to the free HR Community at HRSINGAPORE. Corporate Subscription is also available. Explore our resources further, including the HR Certification programmes that can offer deeper insights into managing such situations effectively.


Can employees voluntarily cancel their medical leave if they feel well enough to work?


At HRSINGAPORE, we often encounter queries about the flexibility of medical leave policies, including whether an employee can voluntarily cancel their medical leave if they feel well enough to work.

Handling such situations requires a balance between adhering to legal requirements, ensuring workplace productivity, and prioritising employee health and well-being. Here’s how this issue can be approached in a supportive and compliant manner:

Medical Certification as a Guideline: Medical certificates (MCs) are issued based on a healthcare professional’s assessment at the time of consultation. They serve as an official recommendation for rest and recovery, reflecting the employee’s health status at that point. Therefore, they should generally be adhered to as a guideline for both employers and employees.

Employer’s Duty of Care: Employers have a duty of care to ensure the health and safety of their employees in the workplace. Allowing an employee to work when they have been deemed unfit by a medical professional may contravene this duty, especially if the employee’s condition worsens as a result. Employers should consider the potential legal and health implications before allowing an employee to cancel their medical leave.

Flexible Work Arrangements: If an employee feels well enough to work before their medical leave period ends, employers might consider offering flexible work arrangements, such as working from home or performing lighter duties, depending on the nature of the employee’s job and health condition. This approach enables the employee to ease back into work while still prioritising their recovery.

Consultation and Documentation: Any decision to return to work early from medical leave should involve consultation with the relevant healthcare professional, HR department, and the employee’s direct supervisor. Documentation of the employee’s request to return early, the employer’s assessment, and any advice from healthcare professionals should be maintained to safeguard against potential disputes or misunderstandings.

Policy and Communication: Employers should have clear policies regarding medical leave, including procedures for early return to work. These policies should be communicated effectively to all employees to ensure they understand their rights and responsibilities, as well as the support available to them.

Employers need to prioritise the well-being of their employees while also considering operational needs and legal obligations. For further guidance on formulating or refining your organization’s medical leave policies, consider exploring HRSINGAPORE’s HR Consultancy Services. Additionally, our HRLAW Seminars and HR Training courses can provide valuable insights into managing medical leave and other HR issues in compliance with Singapore’s laws and best practices.

Remember, every situation is unique, and having access to expert advice can help navigate these complexities more effectively.


What if an employee got injured while working during medical leave?


In Singapore, the legal implications for an employee who works during medical leave and subsequently gets injured can be significant for both the employee and the employer. The Employment Act and the Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA) are two critical pieces of legislation that outline the rights and responsibilities in such scenarios. Here’s how these implications might unfold:

Violation of the Employment Act: The Employment Act in Singapore stipulates that employees are entitled to sick leave if they are deemed medically unfit to work by a doctor. If an employer allows or requires an employee to work during their medical leave, this could be viewed as a violation of the Act. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) may take action against employers who breach these provisions.

Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA) Claims: If an employee is injured while working during medical leave, they may file a claim under WICA for work-related injuries. WICA provides a no-fault system for compensation, meaning employees can claim compensation without having to prove negligence on the part of their employer. However, the circumstances under which the injury occurred (i.e., working during medical leave) will be scrutinized to determine eligibility for compensation.

Increased Liability for Employers: Employers could face increased liability if an employee’s condition worsens due to working during medical leave. This includes potential compensation under WICA and possible fines for violating workplace safety and health obligations. Employers must ensure the well-being of their employees, and failing to uphold this could have legal and financial repercussions.

Insurance Implications: There could be implications for insurance claims as well. If an employee is injured while working during medical leave, insurance providers might challenge or deny claims if the employee is not supposed to be working based on medical advice.

Reputational Damage: Beyond legal and financial consequences, employers may also face reputational damage if it becomes known that they allowed or required employees to work during medical leave, especially if it led to further injury.

Both employers and employees need to understand their rights and obligations concerning medical leave and work-related injuries. Employers should have clear policies that prioritise the health and safety of their employees, including adhering strictly to medical leave certifications.

Remember, the well-being of employees should always be a priority, and understanding the legal landscape is crucial in safeguarding their health and your organisation’s integrity.


Can HR allow employees to work during their medical leave?

Yes: 4.76%

No: 42.86%

Sometimes: 9.52%

Depends: 23.81%

That’s confidential: 19.05%

They are certified as medically unfit by the professionals. Voluntarily cancelling is a maybe if it does not pose a danger to themselves or others. – Sha  

Since the staff is feeling unwell, he or she may not be able to work effectively, which could lead to human errors and potentially have a significant impact on the job – PYK

When one is issued with MC, the employee should rest at home for recovery. The doctor may have prescribed medication that may cause drowsiness and may endanger his life especially if the employee is handling machinery. – Hazel


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