29 November 2021

On 23 October 2021, the tripartite partners, comprising the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”), National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), updated the advisory on Requirements for Safe Management Measures at the Workplace (“Advisory”) to require employers to ensure that, from 1 January 2022, unvaccinated employees do not return to the workplace unless they have a negative Antigen Rapid Test (“ART”) administered via a Pre-Event Test (“PET”) at a Covid-19 test provider approved by the Ministry of Health (“MOH”) 24 hours before the expected end of work. The Advisory has also been amended following revisions to the health protocols issued by MOH.

The requirements set out in the Advisory are meant for general workplace settings. Specific workplaces such as construction worksites and shipyards may have to fulfil additional requirements and should refer to sector-specific requirements.

Measures to slow rate of transmission and minimise strain on healthcare capacity

The Advisory provides that work-from-home remains the default. Employers must ensure that employees whose job functions can be performed from home are required to work from home. Those who need to be onsite (that is, they are either unable to work from home or are returning for ad-hoc reasons) are encouraged to self-test weekly via an ART.

With effect from 1 January 2022, unvaccinated employees are not to return to the workplace unless they have a negative ART administered via a PET at an
MOH-approved Covid-19 test provider 24 hours before the expected end of work.

For more information on work arrangements for unvaccinated employees, please refer to our article titled “Tripartite partners update Advisory on Covid-19 vaccination at the workplace”.

Measures to be taken when workers are infected

MOH has simplified the health protocols as follows:

  • Protocol 1: Those who are unwell should visit a Swab And Send Home clinic via private transport for a doctor to assess and advise on their next steps.
  • Protocol 2: Those who are well but test positive should self-isolate at home for 72 hours and repeat the ART thereafter. They may end isolation when the ART result is negative. 
  • Protocol 3: Those who are identified by MOH as a close contact of a Covid-19 case (Health Risk Warning) should, on Day 1, take an ART and upload the results at go.gov.sg/agsubmit. They should then observe a seven-day monitoring period, during which they can leave their house including for work after testing negative via an ART self-test on the given day.

Workers should inform their employers if they are unwell, have tested positive for Covid-19, or been identified by MOH as a close contact of an infected person. This protocol is similar to when workers are unwell (MC from doctor) and are unable to work.

The Advisory encourages employers, upon notification that a worker had been infected, to take the following steps to reduce the risk of workplace transmission: 

  •  Establish if colleagues had interacted with the infected worker recently
    (e.g. meals together);
  • Conduct ART on colleagues who had interacted with the infected worker and follow health protocols. There is no need to send them home if they test negative; 
  • Clean the area where the infected worker was working in accordance with the National Environment Agency advisory. There is no longer a need to conduct deep cleaning of the premises; and
  • Review the implementation of safe management measures.

Reference materials

The following materials are available on the MOM website www.mom.gov.sg: