You are currently viewing Essential advice for employers on COVID-19 measures in the workplace from April 26, 2022

Essential advice for employers on COVID-19 measures in the workplace from April 26, 2022

As Singapore takes the next step towards living with COVID-19, the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”), the Singapore National Federation of Employers (SNEF) and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) (collectively, the “Tripartite partners”) have published a revised set of guidelines for employers on COVID-19 measures to be implemented in the workplace applicable from April 26, 2022 which significantly relaxes the previous measures for managing safety in the workplace. work “Mom’s advice”)[1].

This post takes into account the MOM guidelines and other related guidelines issued by the Department of Health (“MS”)[2] and associated data privacy considerations under the Personal Data Protection Act 2012 (“PDPA”). It replaces our previous article here.

Unvaccinated employees will no longer be prohibited by law from entering the workplace

With Singapore achieving one of the highest vaccination rates in the world (at 96% of its eligible population), the legal requirement for employees returning to the workplace to be fully vaccinated was lifted from April 26 2022. This means that unvaccinated employees are no longer prohibited by law from entering the workplace.

That said, considering occupational health and safety and operational needs, employers have the option to (continue to) implement differentiated vaccination requirements for their employees, including prohibiting unvaccinated employees to enter the workplace, within company policy and in accordance with labor law. For example, employers in the health sector may be concerned about the higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 and serious infections for their employees and patients, while employers whose activities require frequent travel may have need vaccinated employees who will face fewer barriers to doing business. trips[3].

For unvaccinated employees whose jobs require on-site work, as determined by employers under such company policy, employers may:

  • redeploy them to other suitable jobs if such jobs are available, with remuneration commensurate with the responsibilities of the alternative jobs; or
  • place them on unpaid leave on mutually agreeable terms; or
  • As a last resort, after exploring the options above, terminate their employment (with notice) in accordance with the employment contract.

Employers should continue to facilitate vaccination by providing employees with paid time off (including vaccination boosters) and additional paid sick time (beyond contractual or legal requirements) in the rare event an employee experiences a vaccine-related adverse reaction.

Obtain employee vaccination status

If an employer decides to continue implementing vaccination-related measures for employees for occupational health and safety and business continuity reasons, the employer must ensure that it complies with the provisions of the PDPA when collecting and using personal data[4] of an employee (including personal data and vaccination status).

In particular, employers must obtain the informed consent of their employees before the collection, use and disclosure of their personal data.[5]unless an exception exists in the PDPA or is required or permitted under any other written law, and develop and implement reasonable security provisions to protect such personal data from access, collection, use , unauthorized disclosure, copying, modification, disposal or similar risks[6].

As 100% of employees can now return to the workplace, flexible working arrangements are strongly encouraged

All employees (including trainees, temporary workers, etc. under an employment contract) can now return to work. This is an increase from the previous limit of 75% of employees who can work from home. Employees returning to the workplace are encouraged to test themselves when they are feeling unwell or have had recent contact with an infected person.

In the workplace, wearing a mask is mandatory indoors, except when (i) there is no physical interaction with another person and (ii) not in areas in contact with customers where an interaction is likely to occur. Safety distancing will no longer be required between individuals or between groups.

All employees are still advised to exercise their social responsibility and maintain an appropriate safe distance from others when not masked. Employers are also encouraged to retain and promote flexible working arrangements, such as telecommuting and staggered work hours (to avoid crowds at peak times), as a permanent feature of the workplace. In this regard, the tripartite partners also issued a statement on flexible working arrangements on 22 April 2022[7] (“Tripartite declaration”). In the Tripartite Declaration, employers are strongly encouraged to continue to offer flexible working arrangements to employees, as a key permanent feature of the workplace to achieve better work-life harmony and to promote a healthy workforce. more engaged and productive workforce. It has been announced that the civil service will take the lead, with all eligible civil servants in positions conducive to hybrid working to be allowed to telecommute on average two days a week.

TraceTogether and SafeEntry will no longer be used

With the Department of Health stopping issuing health risk advisories to close contacts of infected people, the use of TraceTogether (“TT”) and SafeEntry will be suspended. Workplaces may no longer require employees to register using the app or TT token.

Vaccination against COVID-19 remains a condition for long-term passes, work passes and permanent residence

As of February 1, 2022, vaccination against COVID-19 is a condition for the approval or granting of new long-term passes, work passes, dependent passes, as well as permanent residency. This requirement also applies to the renewal of existing work passes.

In addition, at the time of work permit application, employers are required to declare that their work permit holders and dependents are fully immunized upon arrival in Singapore. Work pass holders are also required to submit or present their vaccination certificates as part of the verification process.[8].

However, this vaccination requirement does not apply to the following groups of individuals: (a) individuals under 12 years of age; (b) 13-17 year olds – they can continue to declare to follow the full vaccination schedule after arriving in Singapore; however, those arriving on or after July 1, 2022 will need to be fully vaccinated before entering Singapore, unless they are medically ineligible for vaccines[9]; (c) work permit holders who are medically ineligible for vaccination, provided they submit a medical note at the time of application and undergo a medical examination upon arrival in Singapore.

Therefore, employers should keep these vaccination requirements in mind before seeking to hire or relocate foreign employees to Singapore.

We would like to thank our intern Ernest Cheong for his contribution to this position.

[1] See Requirements for safe management measures in the workplace updated to April 22, 2022.

[2] See Further relaxation of community and border measures published on April 22, 2022.

[3] See Updated notice on vaccination against COVID-19 in the workplace published on October 23, 2021.

[4] “Personal Data” is defined in Section 2 of the PDPA to include “data, whether true or not, about an individual that can be identified (a) from that data; or (b) from such data and other information to which the organization has or may have access.

[5] Sections 13 to 15 of the PDPA. “Informed Consent” means that the Employee has been informed by the Employer of the purpose for the collection, use and disclosure of their Personal Data, pursuant to Section 20 of the PDPA.

[6] Section 24 of the PDPA.

[7] See the Tripartite Statement on Flexible Working Arrangements (mom.gov.sg)

[8] See Annex A of the MOM press release of December 26, 2021

[9] See New relaxation of community and border measures published on April 22, 2022

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