chatted to Caroline Berube, managing partner of HJM Asia Law, about employer responsibilities when it comes to offering sick leave to staff in Singapore, Hong Kong and China.
In Singapore, the amount of sick leave an employee gets depends on how long they’ve been working with the company as well as whether or not they require hospitalisation, Berube said. The number of sick days each employee can receive is summed up below:
|Period of employment
||No. of sick days (no hospitalisation)
||No. of sick days (hospitalisation)
|3 to 4 months
||5 days per year
||15 days per year
5 days plus the number of days hospitalised
|4 to 5 months
||8 days per year
||30 days per year
8 days plus the number of days hospitalised
|5 to 6 months
||11 days per year
||45 days per year
11 days plus the number of days hospitalised
|Over 6 months
||14 days per year
||60 days per year
14 days plus the number of days hospitalised
When hospitalisation is required, employers should choose the amount of leave which contains the fewest days, Berube said.
For instance, if an employee of more than six months is hospitalised for five days, they require 19 days of sick leave (14 days leave plus the five days in hospital). However if they are hospitalised for 50 days, they will get 60 days of leave (since 14 plus 50 is greater than 60).
Sick employees must be examined “at the expense of the employer by a medical practitioner appointed by the employer or a medical officer,” Berube said.
Employers are obligated to pay the gross rate of pay excluding allowances relating to shift work in cases where no hospitalisation is necessary. If the employee has been hospitalised, the gross rate of pay is required.
In Hong Kong, the amount of paid sick leave is divided up into two categories, said Berube.
For Category One, employees can receive up to 36 sick days. To receive this, they require a medical certificate issued by a registered medical practitioner, Chinese medicine practitioner, or dentist.
For Category Two, employees can take an additional 84 sick days after using up their entitled sick leave in Category One. Here, the employer may request a medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner, Chinese medicine practitioner or dentist attending the employee as an out-patient or in-patient in hospital, said Berube.
The employer can also request a brief record of the investigation carried out and the treatment prescribed, she added. This should be issued by whoever gave out the medical certificate.
Employees on a continuous contract will accumulate sick leave at a rate of two sick days per completed month during the first 12 months of service and four sick days for each month after that.
Employers are obligated to pay a sick leave allowance equal to four fifths of the employee’s average daily pay for the 12 month period prior to the first sick day taken.
In China, the sick day entitlements are rather lengthy especially when compared to other countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong.
|Actual work experience
||Time working for current employer
||Amount of sick leave
|Less than 10 years
||Less than 5 years
|More than 5 years
|More than 10 years
||Less than 5 years
|5 to 10 years
|10 to 15 years
|15 to 20 years
|More than 20 years
Employers are obligated to provide a certain medical treatment period following the conditions below:
- 3 months of sick leave in a continuous 6 month period
- 6 months of sick leave in a continuous 12 month period
- 9 months of sick leave in a continuous 15 month period
- 12 months of sick leave in a continuous 18 month period
- 18 months of sick leave in a continuous 24 month period
- 24 months of sick leave in a continuous 36 month period
For instance, if an employee is entitled to a three-month medical treatment period and he or she takes this leave within a six-month period, the employer has fulfilled their obligations, Berube said.
Employees will be paid a reduced rate while off on sick leave. The exact amount owed depends on local employment regulations however.
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