Singapore Airlines Airbus A380-841 taxis around CDG Airport on March 29, 2010. Singapore Airlines is the flag carrier of Singapore. It was the launch customer of Airbus A380 from Shutterstock.com

SIA refutes claims that employees are penalised for taking sick leave

Some cabin crew have voiced their complaints against Singapore Airlines (SIA) company’s medical leave system which was said to be discouraging to those who are genuinely ill from taking medical leave.

The crew stated that taking sick leaves would affect their chances of promotion.

They also said that SIA rewards its employees with ten points for each year they are working at the company. For every medical certificate they submit for common ailments, the points would be reduced. By the end of the year, if the employees are able to maintain the points, the airline would reward them.

However, SIA refuted such claims. Its spokesman told The New Paper that Crew members who are given medical leave are encouraged to rest and recuperate at home.

“Operating with an MC is a disciplinary lapse,” it added.

Crew members of the airline are granted up to 28 days of paid medical leave and six months of paid hospitalisation (non-casual) leave for chronic or prolonged illness.

The spokesman also said that as with all other businesses, employee productivity and attendance at work are important for a successful airline operation.

“Although crew attendance is a component in the performance management process, we would like to emphasise that crew performance is measured across many other factors,” he said.

Mr Alan Tan, president of the Singapore Airlines Staff Union, SIA’s biggest union which represents cabin crew, told the Straits Times when asked about the concerns, “We are aware that there is some unhappiness and concern among staff, and we are in discussions with management over this issue.”

Ministry of Manpower issued a statement on this issue on Monday (6 February), stating that it expects all employers to excuse their employees from work if they have an MC as paid sick and hospitalisation leave is “a basic protection” under the Employment Act and a core benefit in collective agreements.

“Employers should avoid penalising an employee solely based on his consumption of sick leave. Employers should adopt appraisal or performance management systems which are fair, objective, and which take into consideration the employee’s ability, performance and contributions,” the spokesman said.

The Ministry also urged all employers to clearly communicate their employment and work-related terms and benefits to employees, to avoid misunderstanding between the employers and their employees

Employees who feel that he or she is being penalised for taking medical leave are asked to approach the Ministry for assistance.

Under the law, employees with six or more months of service get a minimum of 14 and 60 days of paid sick and hospitalisation leave, respectively.

Earlier on 31 January 2016, one SIA stewardess was found dead in her hotel room while she was on duty in San Francisco.

Vanessa Yeap was a member of crew operated to San Francisco on flight SQ2 on 28 January, with a stopover in Hong Kong, and was due to have departed out from the country on SQ1 on 1 February.

When landed, Vanessa told her colleague that she was not feeling well.

On the day of their flight back to Singapore, Ms Vanessa was due to meet the rest of the crew at the lobby of the hotel at around 10 to 11 pm on Tuesday (31 January).

As she did not show up, the rest of the crew went up to her room and knocked on the door several times. When they did not get any response, they broke into the room only to find Ms Vanessa was lying motionless on her bed.

They tried to resuscitate her. Unfortunately, they could not revive her. Her cause of death is being investigated by authorities of San Francisco.