FAQ - Sabbatical Leave Scheme

 

Eligibility Criteria

Which professions qualify for the Sabbatical Leave Scheme (SLS)? 

Currently, only Social Workers, Therapists (Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists and Speech Therapists), Psychologists, Counsellors and EIPIC Teachers qualify for the SLS. 

Can I apply for the SLS and PDMP concurrently?  

As the two programmes support different needs, we do not recommend applying for the SLS and PDMP concurrently. 

Can PDMP awardees apply for SLS immediately after completion of the PDMP? 

Social service agencies can decide on the sequence of programmes (SLS or PDMP) they want to nominate their staff for. If an employee undergoes one programme after another, the bond/minimum service period will be added and accumulated. 

I have just completed my SLS, when can I apply for the programme again? 

SLS awardees can reapply for SLS five years from their last sabbatical period. 

Must psychologists and counsellors be registered with their respective professional bodies to qualify for SLS? 

No, they do not.



Nominations

Is there a maximum number of nominations that each social service agency can put up? 

There is no limit on the number of nominations that each social service agency can put up for the scheme. 



SLS Components

Can I just apply for paid leave and not the professional advancement sponsorship? 

Yes, you can apply for up to 10 weeks of paid leave with the purpose of recharging and refreshing yourself during the sabbatical. 

Am I allowed to split the sabbatical leave period? 

As the purpose of sabbatical leave is for social service professionals to recharge and refresh themselves, it should be taken over a continuous period or a maximum of two blocks, with each block not shorter than four weeks. In addition, the second block must be taken within six months from the start of the first block. . E.g. 1st block starts on 1/3/2015, 2nd block has to be consumed by 31/8/2015.

Can I just apply for the professional advancement sponsorship and not for paid leave? 

No, paid leave is a compulsory component of SLS. 

What type of professional advancement activities does the sponsorship allow? 

The sponsorship covers activities (local and overseas)   including:

  • Short courses
  • Research work/training
  • Study trips
  • Exchange programmes
  • Workshops, seminars, conferences
  • Any other relevant professional advancement programmes that are of a non-religious nature

Social service agencies are to endorse the training they want to send their staff for and the 
Executive Director could write a short note on how the activity will contribute to the development of the staff and/or the social service agency. The funded developmental activities should commence and be completed within the sabbatical leave period.

Those on sabbatical leave could also choose to become Social Service Institute trainers or help with curriculum development.

Can I only take up courses related to the social service sector?

As the aim of the SLS is to enhance the competencies of social service professionals, we recommend that applicants take up courses that will help them in their work and/or professional development for the Panel's approval. 

What does the professional advancement sponsorship cover? 

The sponsorship is capped at a maximum of $30,000 per successful applicant or the total actual expenditure, whichever is lower. This will cover both the cost of the activity as well as any expenditure related to the activity, such as airfares, accommodation, meals, transport and insurance (only applicable for professional advancement activity in overseas). Any cost that exceeds the maximum amount claimable will be borne by applicants. 

How will the professional advancement sponsorship be disbursed? 

The awardee will be reimbursed for the professional advancement sponsorship, based on the approved budget amount by the Panel, or the actual expenditure, whichever is lower. NCSS will only process the reimbursement (with necessary supporting documents) after the LOU/Deed agreement has been signed and the awardee has completed the professional advancement activities.

Is there salary support for SLS? 

NCSS will reimburse the social service agencies for the salary support, up to a cap of $15,000 or the actual salary for the leave period, whichever is lower.



Bond

What is the duration of the bond for the SLS? 

Components
Bond Duration
Paid Leave
1 year Minimum Service Period
(MSP)^
Professional Advancement Sponsorship
Below $10,000
1 year MSP^
Between $10,000 to $30,000
1-year bond#

^ MSP is a non-contractual agreement to serve the service period within the current agency.

# For sponsorships amounts between $10,000 and $30,000, the bond period will commence upon completion of the paid leave component.  The MSP/bond period for the professional advancement sponsorship will be served with the MSP for the paid leave concurrently. 

The MSP and bond period are based on a full-time work calculation.  The SLS awardee will serve the MSP for the 10 weeks sabbatical leave period and MSP/bond period for the professional advancement sponsorship (if any) concurrently at the social service agency that the SLS awardee is employed with.  The MSP/bond will commence on the day that the SLS awardee returns to work,upon completion of the sabbatical leave period.

Who are the SLS awardees bonded to? 

While SLS awardees are bonded to the social service sector, they will serve out their minimum service period or bonds at the social service agencies where they are employed. 

What is the difference between a bond and minimum service period?   

A bond is a legally binding agreement that requires the SLS awardee to serve out a fixed amount of time or pay a penalty whereas the minimum service period is a moral obligation by the SLS awardee to serve in the nominating agency for a stipulated period of time.



Resignation

If the SLS awardee resigns from his/her current social service agency before the start of the SLS and joins another social service agency, can he/she still proceed with the programme? 

Once the SLS awardee resigns from his/her nominating agency, he/she will be considered to have withdrawn from the SLS even if he/she is still within the sector. However, if the SLS awardee’s new social service agency endorses his/her continual participation in the programme, the SLS Panel will conduct an assessment to decide if he/she can resume the SLS. 

What happens if the SLS awardee resigns while on sabbatical leave? 

Once the SLS awardee resigns from his/her nominating agency, he/she will be considered to have withdrawn from the SLS even if he/she is still within the sector. Paid leave and professional advancement sponsorships from NCSS will also cease from the date of resignation. The SLS awardee will also have to pay liquidated damages for the professional advancement sponsorship, if any (for approved amount between $10,000 to $30,000), that have been reimbursed up to the point of resignation. 

If the SLS awardee has completed the SLS and is currently serving his/her minimum service period/bond but resigns, what would happen? 

If the SLS awardee is able to find employment at another NCSS member agency or MSF-funded agency, arrangements can be made for him/her to serve the remaining minimum service period/bond at that agency.

However, if the SLS awardee is unable to find employment at another NCSS member agency or MSF-funded agency, he/she would have to pay liquidated damages for the professional advancement sponsorship, if any, that have been reimbursed up to the point of resignation.