Is HR obligated to offer healthcare benefits?

What are employees entitled to in Singapore?

Is HR obligated to offer healthcare benefits?

Do you offer your staff any healthcare benefits? Are you legally obligated to in Singapore? In a recent parliamentary discussion, Singapore’s manpower minister was asked whether employers would get additional support to offer healthcare insurance for specific conditions.

In response, Dr Tan See Leng, minister for manpower first made clear that there is no statutory requirement for employers to do so in Singapore. “Employers may choose to provide health insurance to their employees as an employee benefit,” he said. “Where such benefits are contractual, any changes should be agreed to by both parties.”

If you do decide to offer medical benefits, you can tap on the Portable Medical Benefits Scheme, or PMBS, and provide additional contributions to employees’ MediSave accounts instead of offering a separate insurance. Employees can then use the contributions to purchase their own insurance plans.

Insurance aside, Minister Tan also explained that all Singapore citizens and permanent residents are covered under MediShield Life, which provides lifetime support for hospitalisation bills and selected outpatient treatments like dialysis and chemotherapy.

Read more: Is HR doing enough for mental health?                                                                                                        

Legal entitlement: Medical benefit

As a rule, all employees covered under the Employment Act are entitled to basic medical benefit such as paid outpatient sick leave and the accompanying medical fees. The Ministry of Manpower stated that employers must staff gross salary when they’re on sick leave or hospitalisation leave, excluding shift allowances. In terms of medical fees, employers must pay them if:

  • it results in at least one day of paid sick leave, and
  • it arises from a medical certificate from an approved medical or dental institution.

However, employers are not required to grant paid sick leave or reimburse medical consultation fees for cosmetic procedures. The doctor performing the examination will decide whether a procedure is for cosmetic reasons. Your company policy may cover this as a separate employee benefit.

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