In a Facebook post made on 18 January, President Halimah Yacob commented on the recent jail sentence for the pest control technician that refused to undergo a swab test. His reason for the refusal? Being placed on sick leave while waiting for the results of the swab would deem him unqualified to receive a $100 bonus.
You know it is serious business when the President takes to her personal Facebook page to comment on something. She laid out a few points in her post, all of which you can find below.
Acknowledged the Irresponsibility of the Man’s Actions
A Rahim M Taha was told of the repercussions when he refused to be swabbed at the polyclinic that he attended for his severe coughing. However, he was still insistent on his refusal due to the sick leave he would receive pending the outcome of the PCR test. To the pest control technician with a monthly salary of $1,500, the $100 bonus was a huge incentive.
“The man’s action is without a doubt irresponsible as he could infect others if he was positive,” Mdm Halimah Yacob said.
Detrimental Employment Practice
However, the President also brought up an alternative perspective to the situation. She highlighted that the motivating factor behind Rahim’s actions was the salary bonus. “In order to earn the extra attendance allowance, workers may refuse to take sick leave even when they are unwell, particularly for low wage workers,” she said. As bonus incentives can offset monthly expenses for the families of low wage workers, they are more likely to keep working despite being unwell. Doing so “can be dangerous too for those operating machines as it exposes them and others to injury,” she added.
Especially in times of COVID-19, it is more so essential that workers who have upper respiratory tract infection symptoms are swabbed and remain at home to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.
More Targeted Solutions
Mdm Halimah Yacob stated that the real purpose of an attendance allowance is for companies to deter the abuse of sick leave and “not penalise those who are genuinely sick”. She added that in the current pandemic, “it’s not fair to deprive workers of the attendance allowance when they go on sick leave because they are COVID-19 positive or have to wait for the PCR test result.” It is important for employers to relay this to their employees.
To conclude, she says “the real solution is to make sure that low wage workers are paid better so that they don’t have to depend on such incentives to survive.” Indeed, well said.
Public’s Response to the Post
Many netizens responded to the post, agreeing with what the President had brought out. Some recognised that Rahim was merely trying to do his job and did not “go around merrymaking” while sick. Others hoped that the government would take action and implement a temporary act to ensure that employers do not use incentives that would compromise the health and safety of their staff.
As this issue has already reached the highest seat in the country, we can be hopeful that some form of action will be taken soon to mitigate it. But for now, remember to get swabbed and stay at home when sick.
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Featured Image: Facebook (@Halimah Yacob)
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