Half Days On Public Holiday Eves, Block Leave, Mental Health Day Off: 10 Leave Practices That Are Not Statutory Entitlements And Why Do Companies Implement Them

Many companies actually give more generous leave entitlements than what is required by law. As an employee, if you have enjoyed half days on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve or Chinese New Year’s Eve, you have been a recipient of such non statutory entitlements.

A key reason why companies implement these non-statutory entitlements is that employee benefits, including leave entitlements, exist is to attract and retain employees. Employees are the lifeblood of the company and progressive leave practices help recognize and reward employees who have contributed to the company’s growth. The Tripartite Alliance For Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) recommends progressive leave schemes as benefits companies can offer to employees to improve work-life harmony. By implementing these non-statutory entitlements, companies not only appear more progressive but also genuinely benefit their employees, leading to better staff satisfaction, improved staff morale and increased employee retention.

Here are 10 leave practices that are not statutory entitlements that companies may implement.

Read Also: 17 Types of Leaves Offered By Singapore Companies (Statutory And Non-Statutory)

For reference, we have included the leave practices of the civil service where applicable.

#1 Half Days On Public Holiday Day Eves

Most companies allow their employees to take half days on the eve of public holidays, including New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve. Depending on the company, this may include half days off on the eve of ethnically significant public holidays, including the eve of Chinese New Year, the eve of Hari Raya Puasa or the eve of Deepavali. This is usually meant for employees to prepare for the festive holiday. However, this typically does not apply for businesses that are in the food and beverage sector which tends to see their peak periods during these times

Common practice: Half days on the eve of significant celebratory public holidays, e.g. New Year’s Eve.

#2 Birthday Leave

A day of paid leave for employees to celebrate their birthday. Depending on the company, this may be taken during, before or after the actual birthday. Some companies may also choose to give a half-day-off instead of a full day of leave. This is not officially offered as a benefit of the civil service.

Common practice: 1 day of birthday leave.

#3 Marriage Leave

Marriage leave is time off for employees getting married. This is usually granted with congratulations for the employee’s upcoming nuptials. It may be fully paid leave or part-paid or even unpaid if the leave is granted for an extended period of time. Civil service offers 3 days of marriage leave.

Common practice: 2 to 3 days of marriage leave with the submission of a copy of marriage certificate during leave application.

Read Also: Maternity Leave: Understanding The Rights Of A Pregnant Employee In Singapore

#4 Compassionate/ Bereavement Leave

Compassionate leave is paid leave that employee can take due to the death of a family or household member. Most companies in Singapore do allow a day (or a few days) of leave for employees to grieve and settle the affairs of their deceased loved ones. Civil service offers compassionate leave (the number of leave days is unstated).

Common practice: about 2 to 3 days of compassionate leave for the bereavement of an immediate family member.

#5 Study/ Exam Leave

Upskilling, training and development are the keys to a progressive workforce. Companies can help encourage this by allowing employees to take study or exam leave. This is paid, part-paid or unpaid leave for employees to study for or take an examination. Civil service offers examination leave for work-related courses.

Common practice: Paid exam leave if the course is sponsored or endorsed by the company.

#6 Mental Health Day Off

Mental health has taken a priority during the pandemic. While not common practice, the idea of a mental health day off has gained attention recently. A mental health day off is the mental health equivalent of taking a sick day off.

Currently, employees are entitled up to 14 days of paid outpatient sick leave with a medical certificate (MC). Some companies have already implemented paid sick leave without the requirement of submitting an MC. The civil service provisions for 2 days out of the 14 days of paid sick to be taken without producing a MC.

If the company already has a sick leave policy that does not require proof of MC, it is only a small adjustment to allow employees to take a mental health day off as part of their sick leave provisions.

Read Also: Medical Benefits That Businesses Have To Legally Provide For Their Employees In Singapore

#7 Volunteering Leave or Voluntary Service Leave

Volunteering leave is leave taken to spend on community service or voluntary welfare organisations. These organization may or may not be part of the company’s corporate social responsibility initiatives or company “adopted” charity. This leave may be paid, part-paid or unpaid, depending on company policies. Civil service allows for up to 1 day of volunteering leave.

Under Business and IPC Partnership Scheme (BIPS), companies can enjoy tax deduction on qualifying expenditure incurred when they send employees to volunteer and provide services, including secondments, to Institutions of a Public Character (IPCs).

Regardless of whether your company is participating in BIPS or not, provisioning a day of paid leave for employees to volunteer may encourage more corporate volunteerism.

Read Also: 8 Organisations That Companies Can Volunteer And Partner With As Part Of The Business and IPC Partnership Scheme (BIPS)

#8 Sabbatical

Sabbatical is an extended period of leave taken for personal pursuits. During this period, the employee is free to explore their own interests and the return is considered a continuation of employment. Typically, sabbaticals are granted to long-serving employees with the intention of allowing employees to recharge. They can be paid, part-paid or unpaid.

The National Council of Social Services administers the Sabbatical Leave Scheme to provide social workers the opportunity to recharge themselves. To qualify for the scheme, the social workers must have at least 5 years of direct work experience within sector, amongst other criteria. Once qualified, they can receive 10 weeks of paid leave with salary support during the sabbatical period.

As sabbatical policies are determined by individual companies, there is no clear answer as to whether sabbatical would be granted or the length of the sabbatical or the qualifying criteria to apply for a sabbatical.

#9 Block Leave

Block leave is a period of continuous leave taken in a block of time. They are usually meant to encourage employees to take a period of extended rest. Depending on company policy, this may or may not consume the employee’s annual leave entitlements.

For larger corporations, especially in departments handling sensitive matters, block leave may be implemented for compliance and security purposes. Employees may be mandated to take block leave (e.g. 10 days of continuous leave excluding weekends).

The employee is not allowed to participate in work activities during the block leave. This would allow the company to see if the employee have created a business dependency on themselves which may be a business risk. It may also expose any fraudulent or dubious activities that the employee is involved in during the course of someone else handling their work.

Common practice: 10 days of block leave, which may or may not consume annual leave entitlements.

#10 Garden Leave

Garden leave is a period of leave where the employer requests an employee not to report for work. This is usually implemented after the employee has tendered their notice period and is serving out their notice period. During garden leave, the employee is still technically employed and still on the company’s payroll.

Companies may place their employees on garden leave in order to maintain company confidentiality. This is typically used in industries where the employee may be leaving to join a competitor and the period of garden leave is used to prevent the employee from taking the updated (and sensitive) information when they exit.

Read Also: Can You Really Enforce The Non-Compete Clause in Singapore?

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