Employer Apologises For Denying Staff From Seeing Dying Father, Admits More Empathy Was Needed

Employer Apologised To Ex-Staff In Person, TAFEP Says Urgent Leave Policies Should Be In Place

When a Singaporean missed seeing his dying father one last time as his manager didn’t allow him to leave work, many were outraged.

After all, most would agree that no work is more important than seeing a loved one on their deathbed.

Seeing dying fatherSource

The Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP), an agency that handles complaints of unfair employment practices, reached out to the employer.

They shared that the man’s employer has since apologised to him about the incident, and admitted that more sensitivity could have been used.

Held back from seeing dying father

In the original Facebook post in the group Complaint Singapore, Mr Syed Ahmad Sabar Aljoofri, said he received a call from Tan Tock Seng Hospital on around 9.40am on 23 Dec 2019.

A doctor urged him to come to say his final words to his father, who didn’t have much time left.

Seeing dying fatherSource

However, Mr Syed’s operations manger refused to let him leave work immediately to do so.

Instead, he said he could leave only at 4pm, then upon pleading, made Mr Syed stay 1 more hour.

Managed to leave close to 2 hours after initial call

Eventually, the manager let him leave work at 11.30am, close to 2 hours after the doctor’s initial call.

Unfortunately, Mr Syed was informed of his father’s passing at 11.42am, when he was en route to the hospital.

Seeing dying father Source

Mr Syed said that he broke down as he was unable to say his final words and prayers to his father. That was in fact his father’s final wish.

He was shortly sacked from the company after the same operations manager complained that he took “unapproved leave” to care for his father.

Ex-employer apologised in person

TAFEP said it knew about Mr Syed’s case, and reached out to his former employer earlier this year, reported TODAY Online.

The former employer then apologised in person to him in Aug.

Workplace communicationSource

In fact, that resolution took place before Mr Syed’s Facebook post on 27 Oct.

More empathy was needed, employer acknowledged

TAFEP also said the employer acknowledged that,

…they should have handled the matter more sensitively and empathetically, especially in this situation which involved the impending loss of a loved one.

The watchdog urged employers and employees to have prompt and open communication about caregiving responsibilities and medical or family emergencies.

In that way, suitable arrangements can be worked out.

Urgent leave should be facilitated

In particular, urgent leave applications should be facilitated by the company for employees to handle such matters, TAFEP said.

This should be done by putting in place the relevant human resource policies and procedures.

Possibly in response to the manner of Mr Syed’s sacking, TAFEP also urged for companies to have proper grievance handling procedures.

That’s so that employees can raise their concerns in a safe environment and can have them addressed properly as soon as possible.

Staff are people too

Mr Syed’s incident is truly tragic and no amount of apology and compensation can make up for the fact that he didn’t say his final words to his father.

MS News sends our condolences to Mr Syed, and hope he finds peace.

As for his former employers, let’s hope they’re reminded that their staff are people too, and their welfare should always come before work matters.

Thus, if they – and all of us – can exercise a little empathy, similar incidents can be avoided.

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Featured image adapted from Google Maps.

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