No Jab, No Job: Only Vaccinated Employees Can Return to the Workplace from January 2022

November 1, 20213:40 pm808 views
No Jab, No Job: Only Vaccinated Employees Can Return to the Workplace from January 2022
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From 1 January 2022, only workers who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 within the past 270 days, can return to the workplace, said the Singapore government in an updated advisory statement.

While 96% of the total workforce has been vaccinated, there remain around 113,000 employees who have yet to be vaccinated. Of these, around 14,000 are aged 60 and above and are at a very high risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 infection. To keep the workforce safe, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) has decided that unvaccinated employees will be barred from heading back to the workplace unless they test negative for COVID-19 prior to their return. These employees will need to pay for the costs of the tests and show the results to their employers when reporting to the workplace.

Arrangements for unvaccinated individuals

All unvaccinated individuals will not be allowed to return to the workplace. They can do so only if: 

  • They have tested negative for COVID-19 with an Antigen Rapid Test (ART) done via a Pre-Event Test at an MOH-approved COVID-19 test provider.
  • The test must be valid2 for the duration that individuals are required to be at the workplace. 

The government also ruled that for unvaccinated employees whose work can be performed at home, employers may allow them to continue to work from home but such working arrangements remain the employers’ prerogative. As the vast majority of vaccinated employees eventually return to the workplace more frequently, the prolonged absence of the unvaccinated employees from the workplace may affect their individual performance as well as negatively impact the team or organizational performance.

See also: What to Do If Employees Refuse to Get Vaccinated?

Meanwhile, for employees whose work cannot be performed from home, employers can take the following actions:

  • Allow them to continue in the existing job with PET done at employees’ own expense and own time (i.e. outside of working hours); or
  • Redeploy them to suitable jobs which can be done from home if such jobs are available, with remuneration commensurate with the responsibilities of the alternative jobs; or
  • Place them on no-pay leave or, as a last resort, terminate their employment (with notice) in accordance with the employment contract. If termination of employment is due to employees’ inability to be at the workplace to perform their contracted work, such termination of employment would not be considered as wrongful dismissal.

As the Sinovac-CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine has now been included under the National Vaccination Programme, those who are ineligible for mRNA vaccines are encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible. 

A tripartite advisory to guide employers and employees on managing unvaccinated staff who can’t physically return to the workplace can be found here.

Read also: Singapore Workers Confident of Having More Job Opportunities after Getting Vaccinated: Report

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