Updated advisory on COVID-19 vaccination at the workplace
Issued on 23 October 2021
- We have made considerable progress in vaccinating our workforce. As of 17 October 2021, 70% of firms have attained 100% vaccine coverage for their workforce. 96% of the total workforce has been vaccinated. Nevertheless, there remains around 113,000 employees who have yet to be vaccinated. Of these, around 14,000 are aged 60 and above, and are at a very high risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 infection. Only a small proportion of these 113,000 employees are medically ineligible for vaccination.
- With a higher incidence of COVID-19, and the more infectious Delta variant, the chance of contracting COVID-19 is far higher than a year ago. Unvaccinated employees, especially those who are older, will put immense strain on our healthcare capacity in the coming months, if they contract COVID-19.
- At the same time, the tripartite partners recognise the urgency to be able to sustain business activity as much as possible, in order to protect livelihoods. A fully vaccinated workforce will be able to operate more safely and at much lower risk to employees’ lives. We must also be prepared to take stronger steps to protect those who, due to medical reasons, cannot receive any vaccine.
- The Multi-Ministry Taskforce has announced that starting from 1 January 2022, only employees who are vaccinated, or have recovered from COVID-19 within 270 days, can return to the workplace. All unvaccinated employees will not be allowed at the workplace unless they have a negative Pre-Event Testing (PET)1 result. The PET negative result2 must be valid for the duration that employees are required to be present at the workplace. Unvaccinated employees have to pay for the costs of PET and show the results to their employers when reporting to the workplace.
- The tripartite partners support the workforce vaccination measures as they will allow the country to reopen safely and support recovery of businesses that have been affected by the measures to curb the pandemic. The tripartite partners are issuing this advisory to provide guidance to employers on adjusting their HR policies, in consultation with unions if applicable, in response to this move for implementation from 1 January 2022.
Work arrangements for unvaccinated employees
- For unvaccinated employees whose work can be performed at home, employers may allow them to continue to work from home but such working arrangements remain the employers’ prerogative3. As the vast majority of vaccinated employees eventually return to the workplace more frequently, the prolonged absence of the unvaccinated employees from the workplace may affect their individual performance as well as negatively impact team or organisational performance.
- For employees whose work cannot be performed from home, employers can:
- Allow them to continue in the existing job with PET done at employees’ own expense and own time (i.e. outside of working hours); or
- 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; or
- Place them on no-pay leave or, as a last resort, 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 would not be considered as wrongful dismissal.
Special consideration for unvaccinated employees who are medically ineligible for vaccines under the National Vaccination Programme (NVP)
- For employees who are certified to be medically ineligible for vaccines under the NVP, employers should consider the following measures:
Special consideration for pregnant employees
- Allow the employees to work from home if they are able to do so and their absence from the workplace should not affect assessment of their performance; or
- Redeploy the employees to suitable jobs which can be done from home if such jobs are available, with remuneration commensurate with the responsibilities of the alternative jobs; or
- Exempt the employees from the workforce vaccination measures described in Para 4 above if they need to work on-site.
- Pregnant employees are also strongly encouraged to be vaccinated with the vaccines under the NVP as soon as possible. Pregnant women who delay vaccination are at higher risks of complications should they contract COVID-19 during pregnancy. Pregnant women may wish to consult their obstetrician to discuss benefits and risks.
- Employers are strongly encouraged to give special consideration to the needs and concerns of their pregnant employees and should consider similar support measures for them as per Para 8a – 8b.
Call to Action for Employers
- The tripartite partners urge the remaining 30% of employers to make a concerted push to get their unvaccinated employees to be vaccinated as soon as possible. To facilitate this, companies may check their company’s vaccination rate via a new web service – https://go.gov.sg/percentvaccinated (Corppass required), with effect from 25 October 2021.
- All employers may ask employees for their vaccination status for the purpose of planning deployment at the workplace. Employers may also require employees to produce proof of vaccination before reporting to the workplace. Employees who refuse to do so would be treated as unvaccinated for the purposes of paragraph 6 and 7.
- 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.
Call to Action for Employees
- The tripartite partners would also like to urge the remaining 4% of unvaccinated employees to go for vaccination as soon as possible to avoid any impact to their jobs and livelihoods. Employees may walk into any vaccination centre, polyclinic and participating Public Health Preparedness Clinic (PHPC) to get vaccinated without the need to make an appointment.
- Vaccination significantly strengthens our defences against COVID-19. As we transit into a COVID resilient nation, the tripartite partners urge all employers and employees to work together to control the spread of COVID-19, reduce the strain on our healthcare institutions and 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)
- Unvaccinated employees may proceed to MOH-approved COVID-19 test providers for PET. Please refer to MOH website for more details.
- Negative PET result is valid for 24 hours.
- Subject to any Government mandated Safe Management Measures (SMM) that require employees to work from home by default.