When a family member passes away, many employers will give you compassionate leave.
There is no MOM law saying that they must, but most employers will not be so heartless as to force you to use your annual leave to grieve.
Here’s what you need to know.
What is compassionate leave?
Compassionate leave is paid leave that enables you to attend or prepare a funeral for family members. Your employment contract should indicate how many days of you get.
What happens if compassionate leave is not mentioned in your contract? Some employers will grant compassionate leave when informed about a death in the family, although they might require a death certificate.
Another thing to note is that a death in the immediate family will usually qualify for leave days, but the same is not true about more distant relatives. So, the death of parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, siblings and in-laws will qualify. However, the same might not be true of your aunts, uncles, cousins and so on.
MOM compassionate leave guidelines and policy
Singapore law does not mandate compulsory compassionate leave. According to the MOM, if your company does not wish to offer it, you’ll have to take annual or unpaid leave in order to attend a funeral. However, in practice, most companies still dole out a certain number of days of compassionate leave.
The common practice is to offer at least 2 to 3 days of paid compassionate leave. Some companies might also state that you need to submit a death certificate, but whether this rule is enforced depends on the company.
Different versions of compassionate leave
When looking through your employment contract, you might find some mind-boggling terms. Here’s what they mean.
(i) Compassionate leave per demise
Compassionate leave days are sometimes calculated on a per-demise basis. So, if your contract says you get 5 consecutive days off per demise, it means you get to take 5 days off in a row for every family member who passes away.
(ii) Approval for no-pay or annual leave for a longer duration of absence
Sometimes, the amount of compassionate leave allotted is just not enough. For instance, if your company offers 2 days of compassionate leave in a year, that might not be enough if you need to go abroad to attend a funeral or if you simply need more time to handle funerary arrangements and grieve.
If you see this clause in your contract, it means you have the right to take annual leave or (if you’ve exhausted your supply of annual leave) no-pay leave to extend your absence. This means a lot if your boss is notorious for rejecting leave applications.
(iii) Only for employees employed for a longer time
If you see this clause in your contract, it means your company wants to reward longer-serving employees with more compassionate leave.
They might, for instance, allot 3 days of compassionate leave to employees who’ve been working for them for less than 5 years, and 5 days to those employees who have been with them for more than 5 years.
(iv) Immediate nuclear family gets more
Some companies may offer longer compassionate leave claims for the immediate nuclear family.
This means that a death of parents or children might qualify for a longer period of leave than the death of grandparents or in-laws.
Compassionate leave that nobody wants to have to claim. But when you do need it, it’s important to know what your rights are so you can focus your energies on dealing with your loss.
Have you ever had to take compassionate leave and how did your employer handle it? Share your experiences in the comments.