Knowledge Highlights 30 March 2022

On 24 February 2022, the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”), Ministry of Health, the National Trades Union Congress and the Singapore National Employers Federation updated their advisory on work and leave arrangements for employees who test positive for Covid-19 but are mildly symptomatic or physically well (“advisory”). Details are set out below. 

Self-isolation approach

Employees who are physically well but self-test positive are advised to self-isolate at home for 72 hours. There is no need for these employees to visit a General Practitioner (“GP”) clinic or hospital to undergo a confirmatory Polymerase Chain Reaction test. Employees who are symptomatic should see a doctor. Those who test positive at a GP clinic or hospital but are assessed to be mildly symptomatic and of low risk by the doctor will be given a five-day medical certificate (“MC”) and advised to self-isolate at home for 72 hours.

The advisory states that, after 72 hours of self-isolation, employees should do a self-Antigen Rapid Test (“ART”). If the result is negative, such employees may return to work and resume daily activities. However, if the result is positive, the employee should continue to self-isolate and self-test daily until they obtain a negative result or until 12pm on Day 7 if vaccinated or Day 14 if not fully vaccinated, whichever is earlier. Day 1 is the date of the first positive ART test.

Work and leave arrangements for employees under self-isolation 

Employees should immediately inform their employer when they test positive for Covid-19 and begin self-isolation at home. They should not report to the workplace.

Employees who are physically well (“physically-well Covid-19-positive employees”) should be allowed to work from home if they are able to do so. If working from home is not possible, employers should treat the period of absence as paid sick leave (either paid outpatient sick leave or paid hospitalisation leave) without requiring an MC.

For employees who are unwell due to the infection (“unwell Covid-19-positive employees”), whether issued with a medical certificate or not, employers should similarly treat the period of absence as paid sick leave.

There is no need for employers to ask for a recovery memo from employees before allowing them to return to the workplace - employers should recognise a negative self-administered ART result as proof of recovery. Employees should not be asked to take no-pay leave for the period of self-isolation. 

Employees, who are household members or close workplace contacts of: 

  • physically-well Covid-19-positive employees are advised to minimise contact with the affected individual, monitor their health and obtain a negative ART result daily for the next five days before leaving home (e.g. for work) on that day;
  • unwell Covid-19-positive individuals whose ART was conducted by a medical professional or at a Combined Test Centre or Quick Test Centre will be issued a Health Risk Notice (HRN) and they should follow MOH’s Protocols. Similarly, they are allowed to leave home and return to work, as long as their self-administered ART result is negative.

Background

The Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced on 5 January 2022 a revised approach for managing individuals who test positive using the Antigen Rapid Test (“ART”) but are either mildly symptomatic or physically well. Such individuals are advised to self-isolate and monitor their health. This is a risk-calibrated approach that will allow Singapore to focus the use of primary care and other healthcare resources on Covid-19 patients who are at higher risk of falling severely ill.

Reference materials

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

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