50% of those working from home can return to S'pore offices from Jan. 1, 2022

Those who are unvaccinated by choice and cannot go back to carry out requisite work might get fired.

Belmont Lay | January 01, 2022, 06:02 PM

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Up to 50 per cent of those who can work from home (WFH) are allowed to return to the office starting January 2022.

This was announced by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Dec. 14.

The decision to allow workers back to the office was based on MOH's assessment that Singapore is in a better position to ease the current default WFH posture, with the implementation of the workforce vaccination measures starting from January 2022.

Social gatherings at workplace disallowed

However, social gatherings at the workplace will continue to be disallowed.

Currently, participants in work-related events are capped at 50 persons.

MOH will raise this cap only for events where all participants remain masked and seated, at a safe distance from each other.

All participants must also meet the vaccination-differentiated safe management measures (VDS) requirements.

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

Unvaccinated can get fired

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.

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.

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