SINGAPORE - Covid-19 vaccination remains voluntary in Singapore, but companies here are adopting a range of measures to encourage their staff to get the jab. Incentives include giving employees time off to go for their shots and days off after if they are feeling unwell.
The measures have taken on a new urgency since vaccination bookings for citizens aged between 12 and 39 started earlier this month.
Ms Janice Foo, head of people at KPMG Singapore, said her company's policies for vaccination apply to all staff, including interns and contract employees.
"We encourage employees to take sick leave during scheduled vaccination days," she said, noting that staff are not required to produce a medical certificate if they develop side effects, and those who develop severe side effects are urged to visit doctors at panel clinics under the company's medical insurance scheme.
Managers also check in on workers after vaccination, Ms Foo said.
Ms Maureen Tseng, Singapore general manager of public relations company The Hoffman Agency, said that employees are given half a day off on the day of their jabs.
Staff are also allowed to take a sick day without providing a medical certificate if they feel unwell the day after.
Meanwhile, several law firms are allowing employees to take "vaccination leave" that is separate from their annual leave when they go for their jabs.
Similarly, precision engineering company Rexadvance Technology does not require its staff to take leave to get vaccinated. Employees can also take the following day off without deducting from their annual leave entitlement.
The Straits Times understands that Twitter employees can go for vaccination during work hours.
At a press conference last Friday, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung urged employers to facilitate vaccination for their employees by giving them time off to get their shots and for recovery should there be side effects.
"Give them time off to do their vaccination, and some time to recover if they have side effects such as fever. After all, a workforce with good vaccination (rates) is also a stable workforce that is good for your business," he said.
Employees in a range of companies told The Straits Times that they have not had issues going for vaccination during work hours, as their managers and employers encourage them to get inoculated.
A 26-year-old contracts engineer in a construction company said that while she received her shots on non-working days, colleagues who had their appointments on working days were given the rest of the day off.
A 42-year-old marketing manager in a professional services firm, who wanted to be known only as Mr Tay, said employees in his company must inform managers of their vaccination slots to avoid clashes with important meetings, but they are not required to reschedule bookings.
The flexibility being employed by such companies is in line with best practices suggested by human capital experts.
Mr Neil Narale, partner and Singapore health leader at Mercer, said that greater awareness of common vaccination side effects such as fever and headache has prompted employers to give their staff time off to rest after they get their jabs.
"In Singapore, employers by and large recognise that vaccination is key in achieving herd immunity and driving a return to normalcy; many are doing their part to ensure employees have peace of mind should they have a reaction after their shot," he said.
ManpowerGroup Singapore country manager Linda Teo said employers play a major role in encouraging employees to get vaccinated, and this need not involve additional financial commitments.
Initiatives by companies to urge employees to get their shots can include providing staff with resources and information on vaccination and its benefits.
But employers should also ensure that staff who cannot be vaccinated or choose not to get their jabs are not stigmatised, said Ms Teo.
Employers should also be flexible and adjust employees' working hours to accommodate vaccination appointments, and assure staff that they will not be penalised at work if they need additional time to get their jabs, she said.