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Advisory on work and leave arrangements for employees who test positive on the COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test (ART) but are physically well

Issued on 25 September 2021

  1. The MTF announced on 17 September 2021 a revised approach of managing individuals who test positive on the Antigen Rapid Test (ART) but are physically well (i.e. no evident symptoms like fever, cough, or runny nose). Such individuals are advised to self-isolate to monitor their health, instead of rushing to the nearest General Practitioner clinic or hospital, which may risk exposure to other infections. 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 at higher risk of falling severely ill.
  2. The tripartite partners are issuing this advisory to provide guidance to employers and employees regarding the work and leave arrangements during self-isolation for employees who test ART-positive but are physically well.

    Approach to self-isolation for ART-positive but physically well employees
  3. Employees who are ART-positive but physically well are advised to self-isolate at home for 72 hours1. There is no need for these employees to undergo a confirmatory Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test2 after getting the first positive ART result.
  4. After 72 hours of self-isolation, the employee should repeat the ART. If the result is negative, the employee may return to work and daily activities. However, if the result is positive, the employee should continue to self-isolate, and take another ART every 24 hours until the employee receives a negative ART result.

    Work and leave arrangements for ART-positive but physically well employees under self-isolation
  5. Employees should immediately inform their employer when they test positive on ART and begin their self-isolation at home. Employers should not ask ART-positive but physically well employees to report to the workplace. Such 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 a medical certificate. Employees should not be asked to take no-pay leave for the period of self-isolation. Employees may return to the workplace when they get a negative ART result after 72 hours.
  6. Employees, who are household members of ART-positive but physically well individuals, should monitor their health for 10 days and do regular ART self-test. Likewise, other employees who are workplace close contacts of the ART-positive employee are advised to do the same. There are no movement restrictions on these employees so long as their ART self-test results are negative. This means that they can return to the workplace if they are unable to work from home. But, they should limit interactions with others as much as possible.
  7. For further queries, please contact:

    Ministry of Manpower
    Online enquiry
    www.mom.gov.sg

    Ministry of Health
    Online enquiry
    www.moh.gov.sg

    National Trades Union Congress (NTUC)
    ntucird@ntuc.org.sg
    www.ntuc.org.sg

    Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF)
    advisory@snef.org.sg
    www.snef.org.sg

FOOTNOTE

  1. Refer to MOH’s website for more details.
  2. Only individuals who develop symptoms of acute respiratory infection during self-isolation or belong to the groups listed in the Annex should continue to undergo a confirmatory PCR.

Annex

Individuals who need to undergo confirmatory PCR testing if they test ART-positive but are physically well

  • All persons who are working in healthcare and eldercare settings
  • All persons who work or study in pre-schools or primary schools
  • Persons with specific risks factors:
    • Persons under a quarantine order (QO), stay-home notice (SHN) or have received a Health Risk Warning (HRW) SMS
    • Persons aged above 80 years old (vaccinated) or above 70 years old (unvaccinated)