From 9 to 15 Oct, 17,000 people received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The week before, it was 11,000.
This spike was no coincidence. It came after the authorities announced that only fully vaccinated individuals would be allowed to enter malls and dine-in at eateries, as well as visit attractions.
Since our exit of Phase 2 (Heightened Annoyance), the list of places where unvaccinated individuals have been allowed to enter has been getting shorter.
First, it was restaurants, then malls and attractions, and a few days ago, their workplaces. And if they can’t do their work from home, they might just be terminated.
MOM: Employers Can Sack Unvaccinated Staff If They Can’t Perform Their Work from 1 Jan 2022
In an updated advisory published last Saturday (23 Oct), the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) noted that while 96% of the total workforce has been vaccinated, there are still 113,000 employees who have gotten their jabs.
“Unvaccinated employees, especially those who are older, will put immense strain on our healthcare capacity in the coming months, if they contract COVID-19,” MOM said, especially with the high number of cases reported daily in the past couple of months.
This is why the ministry is only permitting fully vaccinated individuals and those who have recovered from COVID-19 within 270 days to return to the workplace from 1 Jan next year.
This means unvaccinated employees will have to work from home unless they have a negative pre-event testing (PET) result. And if their work cannot be performed at home, MOM offered employers the following options:
- Allow them to continue in the existing job with PET done at employees’ own expense and own time (outside of working hours)
- 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
- Place them on no-pay leave
Or, as a last resort, MOM said, employers can “terminate their employment – with notice – in accordance with the employment contract.”
It added that if this termination of employment is due to employees’ inability to be at the workplace to perform their contracted work, it would not be considered as wrongful dismissal.
Exception for Those Who are Medically Ineligible For Vaccines under NVP
The same rules won’t apply to those who are medically ineligible for vaccines under the National Vaccination Programme, however.
In this instance, employers have the following options:
- Allow the employees to work from home if they are able to do so; their absence from the workplace should not affect the assessment of their performance
- Redeploy the employees to suitable jobs which can be done from home if such jobs are available, with remuneration commensurate with the responsibilities of the alternative jobs
- Exempt the employees from the workforce vaccination measures previously described if they need to work on-site
MOM, along with the Ministry of Health (MOH) called upon employers to make a “concerted push” to get their unvaccinated employees vaccinated as soon as possible.
Employers now have the authority to ask workers for their vaccinations status as well as proof of vaccination before reporting to the workplace.
Employees who refuse to do so would be treated as unvaccinated, the authorities said.
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