6 Things Employers Need To Know About Fully Vaccinating Their Workers From 1 Jan 2022

What employees need to know about unvaccinated employees

Just 4% of employees remain unvaccinated in Singapore. Nevertheless, this amounts to 113,000 employees who have yet to take their vaccinations. In an MOM advisory on COVID-19 vaccination, employers are required to ensure that their employees are vaccinated before they can return to the workplace from 1 Jan 2022. 

#1 Unvaccinated Employees Will Put Immense Strain On Healthcare System

In the advisory, the “urgency to be able to sustain business activities as much as possible” was highlighted. With the chance of getting COVID-19 far higher today, unvaccinated employees will potentially put immense strain on Singapore’s healthcare system.

#2 Those Who Have Recovered In The Past 270 Days Or Have A Negative PET Result Can Also Return

Besides being vaccinated, employees who have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 270 days will also be considered in the same group as those who are vaccinated. They can return to the workplace.

Employees who are unvaccinated – whether by choice or because they are medically ineligible – have to return a negative Pre-Event Test (PET) result. 

Both ART and PCR tests can be used as a Pre-Event Test. However, the validity of a result is only 24 hours. Do note that it might not be logical to take a PCR as it may take up to 48 hours for test results to be returned. 

This does not also tackle the virtually impossible constraint of employees having to take a PET every day, as the validity is only for 24 hours.

You can view the list of approved PCR and ART test providers on the MOH website.

Read Also: Pre-Event Testing (PET): How Much Does it Cost and Which Businesses Need to Implement it?

#3 Unvaccinated Employees Have To Pay For The Costs Of The Pre-Event Test (PET)

In the advisory, it is explicitly stated  that the unvaccinated employee has to bear the cost of the PET.

#4 Employers Can Fire Employees Who Are Not Vaccinated

The MOM advisory states that “if termination of employment is due to employees’ inability to be at the workplace” to perform their work, then such termination would not be considered wrongful dismissal.

For workers who cannot perform their work from home, employers can allow them to continue with PET at their own cost and time. Employers can also choose to redeploy them, and are empowered to change remuneration to be commensurate with their new responsibilities. Employers can also place such employees on no-pay leave.

For workers who can work from home, employers can allow them to continue their work-from-home arrangement at your own prerogative. This seems to suggest that employers can reject this arrangement – and thus terminate them at their discretion.

The MOM advisory also provides a clue to the intended future work arrangements, as it states that “the vast majority of vaccinated employees (will) eventually return to the workplace more frequently”. It also notes that prolonged absence of unvaccinated employees from the workplace may affect their individual performance as well as negative impact team or organisational performance.

#5 Medically Ineligible Employees May Be Exempted From Workforce Vaccination Measures

The MOM advisory also states that employees who are unable to be vaccination due to medical reasons may be exempted from the measures from 1 January 2022.

Alternatively, employers can allow them to work from home. This should not affect their performance assessment. The MOM advisory also empower employers to redeploy them to other roles more suitable for work-from-home (even though they can be exempted from the measures) and adjust their remuneration.

Another special consideration should be provided to pregnant employees. Even though pregnant women are also strongly encouraged to be vaccinated, employers should consider allowing them to work from home or redeploy them to other roles and adjust their remuneration if necessary.

#6 Companies Can Check Employees Vaccination Status Via New Web Service

Employers can refer to a new web service to check your company’s vaccination rate. You will require your CorpPass to access this new web service. You can start checking from 25 October 2021.

Employers can also ask employees for proof of their vaccination status for the purpose of workforce deployment. Employees who refuse to provide such information should be treated as unvaccinated.

Finally, employers are encouraged to grant employees paid time-off for their vaccination (including booster shots) and any paid sick leave (beyond contractual or statutory requirements) in the event of vaccine-related adverse reactions.

Read Also: Guide To CorpPass And How To Set It Up For Your Company And Staff

Employers Potentially Made The Bad Cop To Require Workers To Get Vaccinated

For unvaccinated workers, which only amounts to 4% of the workforce, employers may have to implement numerous HR measures. It would definitely be easier if every employee was vaccinated.

Without making it a requirement to be vaccinated in Singapore, the government is effectively shifting some of the responsibility to employers with certain requirements as well as empowering them to let go of unvaccinated employees without it being considered wrongful dismissal.

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