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Written Answer by Mr Lim Swee Say PQ on Workplace Safety for Female Employees of Child-Bearing Age

Notice Paper no. 274 of 2016 for the sitting on 13 September 2016

Question no. 455 for oral answer

MP: Ms K Thanaletchimi

To ask the Minister for Manpower with regard to female employees of childbearing age, including pregnant or breastfeeding mothers (a) whether special emphasis can be made in the Workplace Safety and Health Act to ensure that companies consider the safety of these employees at the workplace when conducting risk assessment; (b) whether the Approved Code of Practice on Workplace Safety and Health Risk Management can be further strengthened to safeguard them from risks that may arise from working conditions or physical, biological, psychological or chemical agents; and (c) whether the law can provide for suitable alternative jobs for them where their workplace safety and health cannot be satisfactorily managed.


  1. Ensuring workplace safety and health is an important priority for MOM. The Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Act sets the legal framework for the regulation of WSH in Singapore. It is supported by Approved Codes of Practice that set the expected minimum standards and WSH Guidelines that recommend measures to address specific risks. Currently the Act already requires companies to take reasonably practicable measures to ensure the health and safety of all persons at the workplace. Section 4(2)(b) of the WSH Act also provides that “any reference to the health of a person shall, where that person is pregnant, include a reference to the health of any unborn child that the person is carrying”.
  2. The Approved Code of Practice on WSH Risk Management was introduced in 2011 to establish standards that companies are expected to adopt when managing workplace risks. It was enhanced in 2015 to require employers to consider individual health risk factors. This change means that if there are special risks to female employees of childbearing age, including pregnant or lactating mothers, reasonable risk mitigation measures must be put in place. WSH Guidelines were also developed to deal with more specific situations. For example, the WSH Guideline on Statutory Medical Examinations recommends that pregnant and lactating employees not be assigned jobs with exposure to certain hazards like lead, arsenic and benzene.
  3. The Act expects employers to take reasonably practicable measures to eliminate or mitigate risks for pregnant and lactating employees by providing adequate arrangement for their welfare at work. Hence, employers should consider providing alternative job assignments where appropriate.
  4. MOM requires employers to provide safe and healthy workplaces for all employees, including pregnant and lactating employees. MOM will take actions against employers who fail to do so.