SINGAPORE: A university student who’s currently interning at an SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) asked if it is “normal” for this type of company to “chase” employees even when they’re on leave with a medical certificate (MC).

Taking to the askSingapore subreddit on Wednesday (19 June), the student ‘Educational-Ad-1538’ said that they’re doing a summer internship at an SME but recently came down with the flu and had a high fever from Sunday night until Tuesday.

However, they claimed that their supervisor had asked them to work every three to four hours since Monday, even though it was the Hari Raya Haji public holiday.

While the intern admitted that the work they were being asked to do was neither too tedious nor time-consuming, they expressed surprise that they were expected to accomplish tasks while battling a 40-degree fever.

By Tuesday, the intern was feeling better and planned on going back to work the following day, but “just wanted to know if it’s normal that SMEs chase for work while you’re on MC, even for interns.”

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Under Singapore’s Employment Act, employers should not require any staff to work during his/her period of medical leave. Despite this, many commenters told the intern that, unfortunately, their experience is by no means unusual.

In one much-upvoted comment, a Reddit user said that this is not only normal for SMEs but also at multinational companies (MNCs), depending on how “toxic” one’s boss or department is.

Another echoed this comment, saying that the type of company doesn’t really matter, as long as one’s superior refuses to respect MCs and let workers rest.

Some pointed out, however, that MNCs that are headquartered in other countries, particularly the United States, do not practice this, and don’t bother employees on their sick leave days.

The post author added in a comment that their supervisor even insinuated that the intern was faking being ill, “then backtracked when she realized I wasn’t.”

They added, however, that they were glad to realize they weren’t “crazy for thinking this way.”

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One commenter said that the superior may have grown suspicious because the last weekend had been a three-day one and that the intern could be more specific when describing their illness next time. However, the intern was advised to not do the work they were being asked to do, to prove that they were actually unwell, and to send the superior a message that these tactics were not effective.


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