COVID-19: Healthcare workers get help in seeking refunds for cancelled holiday plans

Medical staff walk to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases building at Tan Tock Seng Hospital in Singapore. (PHOTO: Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Healthcare workers in public hospitals who have had to cancel their holiday plans when their annual leave was frozen due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak will be able to get help in seeking refunds or compensations for their cancelled air tickets and other holiday bookings.

In a joint media statement on Thursday (13 February), the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) said that healthcare institutions will provide their workers with letters of proof of the employers’ cancellation of leave to support them in seeking refunds from travel agents and insurance companies.

Should the travel agent or travel insurance company be unable to refund in full, the public healthcare institutions will help defray the costs incurred by the workers.

Healthcare workers who face difficulties with their refund claims can approach the Healthcare Services Employees’ Union (HSEU) for assistance.

Leaves frozen to handle higher volume of patients

MOM said that the healthcare workers’ annual leave was frozen so that hospitals could handle a higher-than-expected volume of patients during the COVID-19 outbreak.

After HSEU highlighted its members’ concern over refunding of cancelled holiday plans, all parties agreed to provide support to the healthcare workers.

“As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, the tripartite partners stand ready to work with workers and businesses to pro-actively address any issues and to establish norms that demonstrate our appreciation and support for those at the frontline in responding to COVID-19,” the joint statement said.

“The tripartite partners also urge all organisations, especially travel agents and insurance companies, to give healthcare workers more support and consideration during this period.”

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