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Sabbatical leave guide for employers in Singapore

In the hustle and bustle of modern workplaces, there's a growing acknowledgement among employers about the significance of sabbatical leave in nurturing employee happiness and overall well-being. But what does sabbatical leave really entail, especially here in Singapore? Buckle up as we embark on an enlightening journey through the realm of sabbatical leave. From unravelling its essence to exploring the details and how it fits into the workplace landscape, this guide uncovers the ins and outs of sabbatical leave.

What is sabbatical leave?

Sabbatical leave, often referred to simply as a sabbatical, is an extended break from work granted to employees, typically for an extended period ranging from a few weeks to several months or years. During a sabbatical, employees are allowed to take time off from their regular job responsibilities to pursue personal interests, academic studies, volunteer work, or simply to recharge and rejuvenate. It is intended to provide employees with an opportunity for personal and professional growth, exploration, and renewal outside of their usual work routine.

How does sabbatical leave work?

Sabbatical leave arrangements vary depending on company policies and agreements between employers and employees. Typically, employees must request sabbatical leave in advance and outline their handover plans for the duration of the break. During the sabbatical, employees are usually not required to perform work duties and are not entitled to receive their regular salary.

Are employees entitled to sabbatical leave in Singapore?

In Singapore, sabbatical leave is not a statutory entitlement, and whether employees are eligible for sabbaticals depends on the company's policies and agreements. While some employers may offer sabbatical leave as part of their benefits package, it's not guaranteed for all employees.

What should I include in the leave policy if I’d like to offer sabbatical leave to my employees?

If you plan to provide sabbatical leave as part of your leave policy, the following details may be useful to include in your employment contracts:

  • Definition of sabbatical leave, e.g., a large block of leave taken for personal pursuits; 
  • Eligibility requirements for employees to receive sabbatical leave; 
  • Maximum number of days allowed for each occurrence; 
  • How pay will be handled during the leave period; 
  • Supporting documentation required, e.g., letter of acceptance (study or volunteer purpose);  
  • Procedure for notifying employers about the need for sabbatical leave and returning to work after taking it. 

By including clear guidelines on what sabbatical leave constitutes and how it can be accessed, companies are able to offer essential support for their employees at certain times. It is important that these policies are communicated clearly and regularly so employees understand their entitlements and feel comfortable taking time off when necessary. This helps create a positive working environment where everyone feels valued and respected.

How long is a sabbatical leave period in Singapore?

The duration of sabbatical leave can vary widely, depending on individual agreements between employers and employees. Sabbaticals can range from a few months to a year or more, depending on the purpose of the break and the employee's needs.

Is sabbatical leave paid or unpaid in Singapore?

Sabbatical leave in Singapore can vary depending on the company policies. It may be fully paid, partially paid, or unpaid. Some companies offer paid sabbatical leave as a benefit after a certain period of service, such as one month off after every five years of service. During this time, the employee's return to work is typically considered a continuation of their employment.

Tip: Learn answers to common questions regarding unpaid leave policies with our comprehensive “Unpaid leave guide for employers in Singapore”!

How do I calculate the annual leave entitlement for an employee who took sabbatical leave?

To determine the annual leave entitlement for an employee who has taken unpaid leave, it's essential to exclude the periods of approved no-pay leave from the calculation. For an accurate pro-ration of your employee's leave entitlement, factor in the number of complete months they have actively worked. Here's an example:

Let's say Joyce is entitled to 14 days of annual leave per year, based on her length of service and the company's leave policy. However, during this year, she will take a 3-month unpaid sabbatical leave from April to June 2024.

To calculate Joyce’s prorated annual leave entitlement:

(Number of completed months of service ÷ 12 months) × Number of days of annual leave entitlement

(9 months ÷ 12 months) × 14 days = 10.5 days*  ≈  11 days

Hence, Joyce's annual leave entitlement for the year would be prorated to 11 days due to the 3 months of sabbatical leave.

Note*: If the computed figure is less than 0.5, it is rounded down. If it is 0.5 or more, it is rounded up to one day.

Tip: As an employer, managing annual leave well is an important part of ensuring that your employees are happy and productive. Find out more in “Annual leave in Singapore - What every employer must know” to stay informed and compliant with HR regulations!

Are Singapore Permanent Residents (PR) or foreigners eligible for sabbatical leave?

Sabbatical leave eligibility may vary for Singapore Permanent Residents (PR) and foreigners, depending on the company's policies and agreements. While some employers may extend sabbatical leave benefits to all employees, others may restrict eligibility based on factors such as employment status or duration of service.

Do contract, temporary, or part-time workers get sabbatical leave?

Similarly, the availability of sabbatical leave for contract, temporary, or part-time workers depends on the company's policies and agreements. While some employers may offer sabbatical leave to all employees, others may limit eligibility based on employment status or other criteria.

Can an employee take sabbatical leave during probation?

Typically, sabbatical leave is granted to employees who have completed a certain period of service, often several years. During probation, employees are usually still in the process of demonstrating their suitability for the role, and granting sabbatical leave may not align with the purpose of probation, which is to assess the employee's performance and fit within the organisation.

However, policies regarding sabbatical leave during probation may vary between companies, so it's essential to refer to the organisation's specific policies and discuss any leave requests with HR or management.

Can an employee take sabbatical leave during the notice period?

Whether an employee can take sabbatical leave during the notice period depends on the company's policies and the terms outlined in the employment contract. In many cases, employees are expected to fulfil their notice period by remaining actively engaged in their roles until their departure. Taking sabbatical leave during the notice period may not align with the purpose of providing notice, which is typically to facilitate a smooth transition and wrap up responsibilities.

However, organisations may have different policies regarding leave during the notice period, so it's essential for employees to refer to their employment contracts and company policies, and if necessary, discuss any leave requests with HR or management.

Tip: Read more about notice periods to ensure a smooth and positive transition for your employees in “Notice period: A guide for employers in Singapore”!

Apart from offering sabbatical leave, what other non-statutory leave benefits can I provide to support the well-being of my employees?

Although the MOM does not require these leave benefits, they are good options to give your employees more assistance and flexibility in managing their personal lives.

Marriage leave

Marriage leave is a specific type of leave granted to employees to allow them to attend their own wedding or the wedding of immediate family members. It is typically a short period of paid leave provided by employers as part of their employee benefits package. The purpose of marriage leave is to support employees during significant life events, such as their own marriage or the marriage of close family members, promoting work-life balance and demonstrating employer recognition of the importance of such occasions.

Tip: Marriage leave plays a crucial role in fostering a positive workplace culture by demonstrating employers' commitment to supporting their employees during significant life events. To ensure a seamless experience for your employees when applying for leave, explore our comprehensive marriage leave guide for employers in Singapore.

Compassionate leave

Compassionate leave is a discretionary leave provision that allows employees to take time off to attend to family emergencies or bereavement. Despite not being required by the Ministry of Manpower, providing compassionate leave demonstrates your compassion and empathy as an employer towards your employees during difficult times.

Tip: Find out everything you need to navigate the compassionate leave process with our “Compassionate leave guide for employers in Singapore” and show your employees that you are there to support them when they need it the most!

Eldercare leave

Eldercare leave is a type of leave that allows employees to take time off from work to attend to the needs of their ageing parents or elderly family members. As parents and loved ones grow older, they may require additional support, medical attention, or assistance in daily activities. Eldercare leave provides employees with the necessary time and flexibility to address these needs and ensure the welfare of their elderly family members.

Family caregiver leave

Family caregiver leave grants employees the opportunity to take a leave of absence to care for family members, extending beyond childcare or eldercare leave. This acknowledges that employees may have caregiving duties for a broader spectrum of family members, including older children, siblings, or grandchildren. By offering this leave option, employees have the flexibility to fulfil these responsibilities without any adverse effects on their employment status.

Tip: Deep dive into our comprehensive “Family care leave guide for employers in Singapore” to learn the various types of family care leave that the Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) requires, as well as some additional leave benefits that you might think about providing to your employees!

Birthday leave

Birthday leave is a special day off granted to employees to commemorate personal occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries. Typically, this form of leave is provided as an additional benefit beyond the regular annual leave entitlement and is often paid. It allows employees to enjoy their special day without having to use their regular vacation days.

Simplify employee leave tracking with Payboy’s leave management system!

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) often find leave management to be a pain point, and we can understand why:

  • SMEs don’t have as much HR resources as larger businesses. As a result, they often have to rely on manual leave processes, which can be both time-consuming and error-prone.
  • SMEs often have a more limited pool of employees to choose from when someone goes on leave. This can lead to disruptions in workflow and decreased productivity.

If leave isn't managed properly, it can have a negative impact on productivity and morale. Therefore, good HR software is an essential tool for any business that wants to stay on top of its leave entitlements and ensure its employees are getting the rest they deserve. Here are some benefits of using our leave management module:

Manage leaves digitally

Our leave management module is designed to streamline the leave management process, making it easy for employees to apply for leave and check leave balances, as well as for employers to approve and manage leave requests.

Employees can also easily submit supporting documents or certificates via the mobile app, so that all the documents are stored in a central database. No more missing documents!

Sync seamlessly with Shift Scheduling and Payroll Processing modules

Shift scheduling and payroll calculation can be time-consuming and stressful while managing different leave types and requests. With Payboy HR software, when leaves are approved, the employee’s availability will be automatically updated in the Shift Scheduling module, and any encashed or unpaid leave will be calculated in the Payroll Processing module

Customise the leave policy that best fits your business needs

We'll provide you with a MOM-compliant setup to start with, but we are also ready to assist you in customising your leave policy to fit your business requirements. Check out how to customise settings for each leave type with Payboy, including shared parental leave!

Our Payboy Support Centre also helps to address most of the FAQs regarding other statutory leave entitlements asked by our customers:

Streamline your HR processes with Payboy today!

As a PSG-approved HRMS, Payboy provides a robust system to help you manage your HR tasks so that you can focus on your business and people!

With our wide range of modules, you can customise a solution to meet the specific needs of your business:

Payroll Processing | Leave Management | Claims Management | Applicant Tracking

Time Attendance | Shift Scheduling | Appraisal System | Inventory Management

Project Costing | Training Management 

Find out how you can do it all with Payboy

Reach out to us if you are keen for a free demo on how we can help you save hours and give you some peace of mind on payroll and other HR matters so that you can focus on your business and people.
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