As Singapore is transitioning towards endemic living, the workforce is also preparing to return to workplace.
Starting from 1 January 2022, employees who are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 within 270 days, can return to the workplace, announced the Multi-Ministry Taskforce.
This would also mean that the remaining employees who are will not be allowed at the workplace unless they have a negative Pre-Event Testing (PET) result and alternative work arrangements should be implemented for them.
Work arrangements for unvaccinated employees
According to the latest Ministry of Manpower (MOM) advisory that was issued on 23 October, all unvaccinated employees whose work can be performed at home, should be allowed to work from home.
However, such working arrangements remain the employers’ prerogative as 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).
Alternatively, employers can also redeploy the unvaccinated employees to jobs that can be done from home if such jobs are available, with remuneration commensurate with the responsibilities of the alternative jobs.
Employers can also place unvaccinated employees on no-pay leave.
As a last resort, employers can terminate employment with unvaccinated employees with notice in accordance with the employment contract. Termination of employment due to employees’ inability to be at the workplace to perform their contracted work would not be considered as wrongful dismissal, said MOM.
Special consideration those medically ineligible for vaccines and pregnant employees
For employees who are certified to be medically ineligible for vaccines under the National Vaccination Programme (NVP), the ministry advises employers to allow the employees to work from home if they can do so and their absence from the workplace should not affect their performance assessment.
They can be redeployed to more suitable jobs as well.
While pregnant employees are also strongly encouraged to be vaccinated with the vaccines under the NVP, MOM also asks that special consideration be given to those who are medically ineligible for vaccines to be extended to pregnant employees too.