Some 52,000 unvaccinated workers in S'pore can be fired with notice after exhausting other options

These are the ones who are unvaxxed by choice.

Belmont Lay | December 28, 2021, 02:16 AM

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Some 52,000 employees in Singapore who remain unvaccinated can be fired with notice after exhausting other options to keep them gainfully employed.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) revealed on Monday, Dec. 27 the estimated number of unvaccinated workers here after it was announced that these individuals will not be allowed to return to workplaces from Jan. 15, 2022.

About 6,700 of out of 52,000 are 60 years old and above, and are at high risk of severe illness or death from Covid-19 infection, said MOM.

Only a small proportion of these employees are medically ineligible for vaccination, MOM added.

"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.

Can be fired with notice

MOM said employers should redeploy with suitable remuneration the unvaccinated workers so they can work from home.

The companies can also place the unvaccinated workers on no-pay leave, as long as the arrangement is "based on mutually agreeable terms".

Companies can fire these workers with notice, as a "last resort", after exploring other options, "in accordance with the employment contract", MOM said.

"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," MOM elaborated.

Medically ineligible for vaccines

For employees who are certified to be medically ineligible for vaccines under the National Vaccination Programme, employers should consider allowing them to work from home, but can also allow these workers to return to the workplaces, MOM advised.

MOM said pregnant employees are also strongly encouraged to be vaccinated.

MOM added that employers should not terminate the employment of medically eligible but unvaccinated pregnant employees, and are strongly encouraged to give special consideration to their needs and concerns.

Companies can consider letting pregnant employees work from home or give them no-pay leave until after the employee has delivered, which should not affect their right to maternity benefits.

Data on vaccination rates of Singapore workforce

As of Dec. 19, 2021, 98 per cent of the total workforce have been vaccinated, MOM revealed.

Some 80 per cent of firms have attained 100 per cent vaccine coverage for their workers.

These figures do not include people who are self-employed.

What are the new rules?

From Jan. 15, 2022, only employees who are fully vaccinated, certified to be medically ineligible or have recovered from Covid-19 within 180 days, can return to the workplace.

Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated employees will not be allowed to return even with a negative Covid-19 test result.

Partially vaccinated employees can go back to their workplaces with a negative test result up till Jan. 31, 2022, after which they must be fully vaccinated.

Vaccination also will be a condition for the approval or grant of new long-term passes, work passes, as well as permanent residence from Feb. 1, 2022.

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