Knowledge Highlights 18 January 2023
Updated Covid-19 advisories: Vaccination at the workplace and work and leave arrangements for Covid-19 positive employees who are mildly symptomatic or physically well
Knowledge Highlights 27 January 2022
The Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”), Ministry of Health (“MOH”), National Trades Union Congress (“NTUC”) and Singapore National Employers Federation (“SNEF”) have updated the following advisories:
1. Advisory on Covid-19 vaccination at the workplace, on 27 December 2021
2. Advisory on work and leave arrangements for employees who test positive for Covid-19 but are mildly symptomatic or physically well, on 5 January 2022
Details of both advisories are set out below.
1. Covid-19 vaccination at workplace
MOM, NTUC, and SNEF (“tripartite partners”) support the following workplace vaccination measures which will allow the country to reopen safely:
- Phase 1 (1 January 2022 to 14 January 2022): Employees who were fully vaccinated, certified to be medically ineligible, or had recovered from Covid-19 within 180 days could return to the workplace from 1 January 2022 to 14 January 2022. Unvaccinated employees were still allowed at the workplace if they had a negative Pre-Event Testing (“PET”) result. The PET negative result must have been valid for the duration that employees were required to be present at the workplace. Unvaccinated employees had to pay for the costs of PET and show the PET results to their employers when reporting to the workplace.
- Phase 2 (15 January 2022 onwards): Only employees who are fully vaccinated, certified to be medically ineligible or have recovered from Covid-19 within 180 days, can return to the workplace. The concession for unvaccinated employees to perform PET in lieu of being fully vaccinated was removed from 15 January 2022 onwards, i.e. such employees were not allowed to return to the workplace even if they did PET with a negative result. Partially vaccinated employees will still be allowed at workplaces with a negative PET result up to 31 January 2022 after which they must be fully vaccinated.
Work arrangements for unvaccinated employees
Employers may allow unvaccinated employees to work from home if the employers assess that such working arrangements sufficiently meet their operational or business needs. From 15 January 2022, for unvaccinated employees whose jobs require working on-site as determined by employers, employers can:
- redeploy them to suitable jobs which can be done from home if such jobs are available, with remuneration commensurate with the responsibilities of the alternative jobs;
- place them on no-pay leave based on mutually agreeable terms; or
- as a last resort after exploring the options above, terminate their employment (with notice) in accordance with the employment contract. If termination of employment is due to employees’ inability to be at the workplace to perform their contracted work, such termination of employment will not be considered as wrongful dismissal.
Special consideration for unvaccinated employees medically ineligible for vaccines under National Vaccination Programme and pregnant employees
Even though employees certified to be medically ineligible for vaccines under the National Vaccination Programme are allowed to work on-site, employers should consider allowing the employees to work from home if they are able to do so. Their absence from the workplace should not affect assessment of their performance. Employers can also redeploy the employees to suitable jobs which can be done from home where available, with remuneration commensurate with the responsibilities of the alternative jobs.
Employers should consider extending similar support measures or no-pay leave (“NPL”) to pregnant unvaccinated employees until after the employee has delivered. Such NPL should not affect their right to maternity benefits required under any legislation, employment contract, or collective agreement.
Call to action for employers
Employers need to verify employees’ eligibility before they are allowed to return to the workplace (e.g. proof of vaccination, certificate of being medically ineligible for vaccination, PET result, or proof of recovery within 180 days). Employees who refuse to show proof will be treated as though they are unvaccinated.
Employers should facilitate vaccination by granting paid time-off to employees for their vaccination (including vaccination booster shots), and additional paid sick leave (beyond contractual or statutory requirement) in the rare event that the employee experiences a vaccine-related adverse reaction.
2. Work and leave arrangements for employees who test positive for Covid-19 but are mildly symptomatic or physically well
On 5 January 2022, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced a revised approach for managing individuals who test positive using the Antigen Rapid Test but are either mildly symptomatic or physically well. Such individuals have been advised to self-isolate to monitor their health. The advisory provides guidance to employers and employees on work and leave arrangements during self-isolation for employees who test positive for Covid-19 but are either mildly symptomatic or physically well.
Work and leave arrangements for employees under self-isolation
The advisory sets out work and leave arrangements for employees under self-isolation including noting that Covid-19 positive employees should not report to the workplace and their period of absence should be treated as sick leave. The advisory also provides guidelines for employees who are household members or close workplace contacts of Covid-19 positive individuals.
The following materials are available on the MOM website www.mom.gov.sg:
- Updated advisory on Covid-19 vaccination at the workplace
- FAQs on Covid-19 vaccinations at the workplace
- Advisory on work and leave arrangements for employees who test positive for Covid-19 but are mildly symptomatic or physically well
- FAQs on work and leave arrangements for employees who test positive for Covid-19 but are mildly symptomatic or physically well
Allen & Gledhill has a Covid-19 Resource Centre on our website www.allenandgledhill.com that contains knowhow and materials on legal and regulatory aspects of the Covid-19 crisis.
In addition, we have a cross-disciplinary Covid-19 Legal Task Force consisting of Partners across various practice areas to provide rapid assistance. Should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Knowledge Highlights 25 January 2023