People working in an employment setting that exposes them to a higher risk of COVID-19 infection can be required by their employers to get vaccinated, according to new guidelines released by Singapore’s tripartite partners on Friday (Jul 2).
In line with Singapore’s national vaccination policy, employers should not make it mandatory for their staff to get vaccinated. On the other hand, employees are expected and encouraged to do their part by choosing to get vaccinated, to protect themselves as well as others at the workplace.
“The collective protection from vaccination will be more effective when more people are vaccinated. In the event of a fresh outbreak, the number of cases can be kept low,” said the partners.
“This will minimise the stress on the healthcare system, ensure that those who are ill get the treatment they need, and allow Singapore to return to normalcy sooner.”
The advisory on COVID-19 vaccination in employment settings was issued by the tripartite partners – the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) – and the Ministry of Health (MOH).
The guideline emphasizes that in particular workplace circumstances, such as one that requires employees to get in regular contact with known COVID-19 cases/persons, employers can make COVID-19 inoculation mandatory for the company policy. Employers may also impose this vaccination requirement upfront at the point of recruitment or advertisement for new hires into these higher risk employment settings.
The advisory identifies three categories of such higher risk employment settings, as seen in the table below.
The tripartite partners suggest two measures for companies whose employees decline vaccination despite working in these settings. First, the employer can redeploy such an employee to another job with a lower risk of COVID-19 infection that is commensurate with the employee’s experience and skills. Second, the said employee can be asked to cover the difference in coronavirus-related costs incurred by them compared to vaccinated employees.
Before adopting the measures above or other measures, employers may consult with the union to achieve mutual agreement. However, saying no to immunisation should not be the reason for termination. Employers need to reassure employees that they will not be penalised or have their employment terminated because they decline COVID-19 vaccination;
“Under no circumstances should an employer terminate or threaten to terminate the service of an employee on the ground of declining vaccination.”