Written Answer by Minister for Manpower, Dr Tan See Leng, on Incidences of Pregnant Employees Leaving Workforce Over Fears of Contracting Covid-19
NOTICE PAPER NO. 643 OF 2021 FOR THE SITTING ON 14 SEPTEMBER 2021
QUESTION NO. 1046 FOR WRITTEN ANSWER
MP: Mr Yip Hon Weng
To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) whether there have been incidences in the past year of pregnant employees leaving the workforce over fears of contracting COVID-19; and (b) whether the Ministry is looking into drawing up initiatives to protect the rights of pregnant employees before they can be safely vaccinated.
- Employers have been taking all reasonable steps to keep workplaces safe and minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission through implementing Safe Management Measures. The Multi-Ministry Taskforce has also announced on 6 September that we will ramp up testing at workplaces to detect and ringfence infections early to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
- A fully vaccinated workforce, together with a regular testing regime, ensures a safe workplace for everyone. There is currently no evidence to suggest that the Pfizer-BioNTech/ Comirnaty or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines cause harm to pregnant women or their foetuses. The Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination has advised that pregnant women can be vaccinated. Pregnant women may discuss with their doctors if they have any concerns.
- Nonetheless, we fully understand that some pregnant employees may still prefer to defer vaccination till after delivery. The tripartite partners encourage employees to raise their concerns over workplace safety with their employers and work out mutually agreeable work arrangements. We also ask employers to be more accommodating to pregnant employees’ requests for alternative work arrangements where possible, including redeployment to a lower risk setting, or work from home.
- To-date, there have been no complaints lodged from pregnant employees against their employers for ignoring workplace safety concerns. Queries from pregnant employees were generally resolved after our clarifications and advice. Pregnant employees should approach MOM if, after discussing their concerns with their employers, they still require assistance to reach a satisfactory outcome.