Definition of medical leave and hospitalization leave
What is medical leave?
Medical leave is paid leave from work that employees can use to stay home to address their health needs without losing earnings. Medical leave is distinct from a regular annual leave since it is intended for health-related purposes.
What is hospitalization leave?
Hospitalization leave is meant to include the time length that a hospital doctor considers that an employee needs hospital care. These are some situations that cover hospitalization leave:
- The employee is either warded or underwent outpatient surgery.
- The employee is not hospitalised but is ordered to take bed rest. For example: pregnancy-related complications.
- The employee needs rest or further medical treatment for the condition after their discharge from the hospital to recover.
Malaysian law on medical and hospitalization leave
According to the Employment Act 1955 (EA), a worker who is covered by EA are entitled to paid sick leave in accordance to their length of service with their company:
- Less than 2 years of service: 14 days of paid sick leave
- Over 2 years, but less than 5 years of service: 18 days of paid sick leave
- Over 5 years of service: 22 days of paid sick leave
An employee who is under EA must first be examined by a registered medical practitioner or a dental surgeon. Then, they must be certified as being ill enough to need sick leave.
- claim to be on sick leave but do not have a medical certificate, or
- do not inform or attempt to notify their employer within 48 hours from the start their sick leave,
will be considered absent from work without the employers' permission. Absenteeism without permission and without just cause is misconduct, which could possibly justify a dismissal.
There are 60 days for hospitalization leave and medical leave.
Employees who are covered by the EA are also entitled to 60 days of paid sick leave if hospitalization is required. Their hospitalization must be approved by a registered medical practitioner or medical officer. But, these workers are only allowed to an total of 60 days paid sick leave in one calendar year.
What about employees who are not under EA?
Since these employees are not under the EA, their sick leave benefits and requirements are ruled only by what is stated in their employment contract or company policy.
Frequently Asked Questions about Medical and Hospitalization Leave
1. If an employee takes a sick leave, will their hospitalization leave also be deducted?
According to the first proviso of Section 60F(1) of the Employment Act 1955, paid sick leave = Non-hospitalization sick leaves + Hospitalization sick leave = 60 days per year.
Citing the formula, non-hospitalization sick leave plus hospitalization sick leave cannot exceed 60 days per calendar year. Therefore, an employee is reducing the hospitalization leave whenever they apply a sick leave.
The concept, simplified:
- Total sick leave + total hospitalisation = 60 days.
- For instance: If Mr Ali is entitled to 14 days of sick leave, then he is entitled 46 days of hospitalization leave.
2. Is there a medical benefit for employees who are covered under Social Security Organisation (SOCSO)?
Workers suffering from employment injuries or occupational diseases are entitled to free medical treatment at SOCSO’s panel clinic or Government clinic/hospital until they are completely recovered.
For serious injuries, employees can obtain medical care from the Government hospital and they are eligible for second-class ward treatment. If needed, specialist treatment will be given.
Employers or workers can claim for expenses reimbursement acquired in respect of medical treatment at SOCSO’s non-panel clinic. An application can be made to SOCSO and the reimbursement is subject to such condition as defined by the Organisation or according to Fees Act 1951.
If the employee has 14 days for sick leave, then it leaves them 46 days of hospitalization leave.
3. Can an employer dismiss an employee if they submitted fake medical certificates (MC)?
According to Section 14 of the EA, an employer may, on the grounds of misconduct inconsistent with the fulfilment of the express or implied conditions of their service, after proper inquiry:
(a) dismiss the employee without notice;
(b) downgrade the employee; or
(c) impose any other lesser punishment as they deem just and fit, and where a punishment of suspension without wages is inflicted. The suspension shall not exceed a period of two weeks.
Under the EA, an employer has the right to dismiss an employee for misconduct without a notice period, depending on the severity of the misconduct.
Misconduct has to be anything that goes against the terms of employment: an employee's responsibilities towards the employer. If the employer finds the employee's actions to be damaging to the relationship of good faith between the employee and the employer, then the employer has the right to dismiss the employee.
An act of forging an MC can be said to have harmed an employee's relationship with the employer, which gives them the right to dismiss the employee.
4. What are the conditions under which an employee is not qualified for paid sick leave?
An employee is not entitled to paid sick leave during maternity leave or for any period during which they are collecting periodical payments under Workmen's Compensation or SOCSO.
5. Are employees entitled to leave replacement if they fall sick on a public holiday?
Yes. If the public holiday falls during which the worker is on sick leave or annual leave, the employer must give another day as paid public holiday in replacement of such public holiday.
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Sources: HRSifu, AskLegal, Donovan & Ho
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