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Only Vaccinated Employees Can Return to the Workplace in 2022

Employers should give special consideration to employees who are medically ineligible for vaccination.
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23 Oct 2021
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From 1 January 2022, only vaccinated employees or those who have recovered from COVID-19 within 270 days can return to the workplace.

The Multi-Ministry Taskforce made the announcement at a press conference on 23 October 2021.

All unvaccinated employees cannot return to the workplace unless they produce a negative Pre-Event Testing (PET) result from an MOH-approved COVID-19 test provider.

The PET negative result must be valid for the duration that employees are required to be present at work. Antigen Rapid Tests (ART) are valid for 24 hours.

Unvaccinated employees will have to pay for the costs of the PET and show the results to their employers when reporting to the workplace.

“Although work from home will remain the default. We recognise that some workers would need to return to the workplace from time to time. We would like to seek the assistance of employers in encouraging their unvaccinated employees to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” said MTF Co-Chair Gan Kim Yong.

As of 17 October 2021, 70 per cent of firms have attained 100 per cent vaccine coverage for their workforce. Some 96 per cent of Singapore’s total workforce has been vaccinated.

However, there are around 113,000 employees who are not vaccinated. Of these, about 14,000 are aged 60 and above, and are at a very high risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 infection.

According to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), only a small proportion of these 113,000 employees are medically ineligible for vaccination.

Employees Who are Medically Ineligible for Vaccination

MOM, NTUC, and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) said that special consideration should be given to employees who are ineligible for vaccination.

The tripartite partners updated the Advisory on Covid-19 Vaccination at the Workplace on 23 October 2021.

In the updated advisory, the tripartite partners advised employers to allow their employees who are ineligible for vaccination to work from home where possible.

The advisory also stated that the absence from the workplace must not affect the performance assessments of these workers.  

Employers may also consider redeploying these employees to suitable jobs that can be done from home, with remuneration commensurate with the responsibilities of the alternative jobs.

However, if the employees need to work on-site, they would be exempted from having to undergo PET before returning to the workplace.

Work Arrangements for Unvaccinated Employees

Meanwhile, for eligible but unvaccinated employees, the tripartite partners urged employers to allow them to work from home as far as possible.

However, the tripartite partners warned that 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 unvaccinated employees, employers can allow them to continue in the existing job with PET; redeploy them to suitable jobs which can be done from home; or place them on no-pay leave or, as a last resort, terminate their employment in accordance with the employment contract.

“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,” the tripartite partners said.