Practice of punishing employees for taking MCs can backfire

Practice of punishing employees for taking MCs can backfire
Referring to Singapore Airlines' MC system, the managing director of AYP Group, a human resource consultancy and recruitment firm, said: "How can we classify MCs into casual and non-casual? How are we to know that a common flu will not lead to severe consequences? We are not in a position to judge because we are not doctors."
PHOTO: Reuters

Employers should not use incentives to encourage employees from taking medical leave, or penalise them when they do.

The New Paper spoke to two human resource (HR) consultants who are against such a system.

Miss Annie Yap said she has never seen a company categorise medical certificates (MC) and deduct points based on the number of MCs taken.

Referring to Singapore Airlines' MC system, the managing director of AYP Group, a human resource consultancy and recruitment firm, said: "How can we classify MCs into casual and non-casual? How are we to know that a common flu will not lead to severe consequences? We are not in a position to judge because we are not doctors.

Read also: SIA refutes netizen's claims over MC rules

"If employees are not happy, their service quality may drop. So the whole plan may backfire against the company."

An accountant, who wanted to be known only as Madam Ho, said: "People should rest at home and not be afraid to take MCs. If the virus spreads and more people fall sick, the firm's productivity goes down."

She has seen auditors coming to work sick and feeling demoralised and moody.

Mr Max Loh, Ernst & Young's ASEAN and Singapore managing partner, said employees have the option to take medical leave with or without MCs, if they are unfit for work.

Read also: SIA reassures cabin crew on medical leave system

He said: "We focus on creating a flexible working environment that is based on trust, collaboration and outcomes (and not presenteeism)."

PwC Singapore said its employees are not assessed by the number of MCs they take.

Read also: HR experts: Health incentives better than penalties

'FLEX'

It said: "The nature of our business is such that it would not make sense to place importance on physical presence in the office; many of our people are constantly on the go or working at clients' premises, and we have adopted 'flex' working arrangements for several years now."

HR expert Paul Heng, founder of NeXT Career Consulting Group, said employees should not be rewarded or penalised based on their medical leave.

He said: "We are bound to fall sick at times. Employers should respect the doctor's opinion that the person is not fit for work."

Read also: Does Singapore have culture of faking illness to skip work? Not really, say bosses

MOM: All employees have right to MCs

fjieying@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Feb 10, 2017.
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