Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song: Over the years, the length of service an employee must serve before qualifying for paid sick leave has been reviewed in Parliament. In 2008, the minimum qualifying period was reduced from six to three months, with the entitlement adjusted on a pro-rated basis. This was in response to an increase in short-term employment contracts.
Since these legislative amendments, short-term employment contracts have become even more commonplace. In 2021, 8.4% of the workforce was on fixed term contracts, up from 7.7% in 2009. The percentage of workers on contracts of less than one year has also seen an upward trend. Many workers find themselves transferred to new employers without even changing their jobs. This happens when their previous employer loses a cleaning or building maintenance contract and they are transferred to the new contractor. When this happens, they are treated as a new employee requiring them to forgo paid sick leave for the first three months of the new contract.
I wish to propose that legislation be amended to allow workers who complete one month of service to be entitled to two days of paid sick leave eight days of hospitalisation leave. This could increase to four days and 10 days respectively after the completion of two months of service.
Concurrently, to protect the interests of employers, tax reliefs and public recognition could be extended to employers who implement these more progressive paid sick leave arrangements. This also complements the Government’s stance of encouraging workers to isolate themselves and seek medical attention if they feel unwell.
4 March 2022
Ministry of Manpower