Singapore

Move to donate unused leave raises questions about work culture

Travel restrictions and additional work as a result of the coronavirus mean many Singaporeans have not been able to clear their leave this year, although experts have encouraged workers to take breaks for their mental well-being.

Earlier this month, civil servants and public healthcare workers were given a longer period to clear their untaken leave and the option to encash part of it.

Another employer has come up with a way of making use of unused leave - letting staff convert it into cash donations for charity.

Nanyang Technological University said last week its faculty and staff have donated over $10 million of unused leave to support its students.

Questions have been raised over whether it is a good idea.

EXTRA EXPENDITURE

Labour economist Walter Theseira said that many companies no longer permit leave encashment, and having a leave donation scheme will result in extra expenditure for businesses.

A Straits Times online survey of 474 people from Thursday to Saturday found slightly over half the respondents want their employers to allow them to donate unused leave.

While 81 per cent said they have unused leave, 55 per cent said they would support donating some to charity.

Some of those who preferred not to donate their leave said they would rather spend time with their loved ones or be allowed to encash their days owed.

Others felt there were better ways to give to charity. They underlined that people need to rest for their health.

Some were concerned that allowing leave to be converted could encourage poor workplace culture to be perpetuated.

Only a handful of organisations say schemes for staff to donate unused leave are in the works. Many prefer to urge employees to help in other ways.

Standard Chartered Bank started a volunteer leave scheme about 10 years ago that gives each employee three days a year to volunteer.

StanChart, which said its staff volunteer about 4,000 days a year, gave employees an extra day of volunteering leave this year to "support our community through the pandemic".

At OCBC Bank, employees can carry forward 12 days of annual leave to 2021 instead of the usual seven, or choose to encash up to five days. - THE STRAITS TIMES

FOR MORE, READ THE STRAITS TIMES

Employment