Updated advisory on COVID-19 vaccination at the workplace
Issued on 23 October 2021
Updated on 7 October 2022
- We have made considerable progress in vaccinating our workforce and living with COVID-19. Although the pandemic is not over, we are now much more resilient to the COVID-19 virus and steadily progressing on our journey towards endemicity.
- On 7 October 2022, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) announced that from 10 October 2022, Vaccination Differentiated Safe Management Measures (VDS) will be lifted fully in view of a high level of population resilience arising from vaccinations and infections.
General guidance to employers and employees
- Since COVID-19 vaccines were made available in early 2021, there has been a series of updates to the guidance to employers and employees on vaccination measures at the workplace. The Workforce Vaccination Measures (WVM), which disallowed unvaccinated employees from entering the workplace, were put in place in the beginning of 2022. While the WVM was subsequently lifted in April 2022, employers still had latitude to impose their own company policies on vaccination, including disallowing unvaccinated employees at the workplace. The tripartite partners recognised that operational and business continuity planning considerations remained relevant to employers, some of whom would, for such reasons, need to maintain company policies on vaccination.
- With the lifting of VDS, the tripartite partners are of the view that employers should take the decision to remove vaccination-differentiated requirements for access to the workplace. However, employers may consider whether the situations in para 5 below are applicable.
Vaccination-differentiated requirements for specific occupations
- If there are genuine occupational requirements, employers, taking into consideration the workplace health and safety and operational needs of their business, may continue implementing vaccination-differentiated requirements for their employees to access the workplace (such as deploying only vaccinated individuals), as a matter of company policy and in accordance with employment law. For example, employers may require their employees to be fully vaccinated before entering the workplace because their employees have to work closely with vulnerable individuals (which may be the case for allied healthcare professionals, nurses and doctors in hospitals and clinics); or the employees’ job scope involves travelling to countries with vaccination-differentiated entry requirements.
- As the Government has fully lifted VDS, it is critical for employers to communicate clearly the rationale and details of the company’s policies to affected employees, if they wish to continue implementing such vaccination-differentiated company policies. Employers should engage their employees and unions (where applicable), to avoid potential disputes, and consider the necessary duration for which, and the specific roles or settings in which, they choose to maintain such policies.
- For unvaccinated employees1 whose jobs require working on-site as determined by the employers under such a company policy, employers may:
- Redeploy them to other suitable jobs if such jobs are available, with remuneration commensurate with the responsibilities of the alternative jobs; or
- Place them on no-pay leave based on mutually agreeable terms; or
- As a last resort after exploring options above, terminate their employment (with notice) in accordance with the employment contract. If the termination of employment is due to employees’ inability to be at the workplace to perform their contracted work, such termination of employment would not be considered as wrongful dismissal.
Call to action for employers
- The tripartite partners urge employers to continue to facilitate vaccination (including vaccination booster shots) by granting paid time-off to employees to receive their shots, and additional paid sick leave (beyond contractual or statutory requirement) in the rare event that an employee experiences a vaccine-related adverse reaction.
Call to action for employees
- With the lifting of VDS, we need to continue to build up societal resilience so as to reduce the likelihood of future waves of infection. It is therefore important for all employees to exercise personal and social responsibility to keep their vaccinations up to date according to MOH’s recommendations, and continue practising good personal hygiene. The tripartite partners would also like to urge the remaining unvaccinated employees to go for vaccination so as to protect themselves and others.
- For employees whose employment has been affected by employer’s vaccination-differentiated company policies, the tripartite partners urge them to approach e2i and WSG for employment facilitation assistance.
- We have made significant progress in our fight against COVID-19. All employers and employees should continue to work together to facilitate a safe reopening of our society and economy.
- For further queries, please contact:
Ministry of Manpower
Ministry of Health
National Trades Union Congress (NTUC)
Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF)
- Refer to MOH website for more details on vaccination status. For employees who are certified to be medically ineligible for vaccines under the National Vaccination Programme or are pregnant, employers should consider redeploying them to other suitable jobs if such jobs are available, with remuneration commensurate with the responsibilities of the alternative jobs. Employers should also consider extending no-pay leave (NPL) to pregnant 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.