askST: Do I need an MC if I get Covid-19 and feel well, but cannot work from home?

Those who cannot work from home should not be required to submit an MC. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - General practitioner clinics have been reporting a surge in walk-in, mildly symptomatic Covid-19 cases since the start of the year, prompting some doctors to suggest that employers can help by not insisting on medical certificates (MCs) for such patients. The Straits Times answers some questions you may have on this topic.

Q: I have Covid-19 but I am physically well. Working from home is not possible for me. Do I still need an MC?

A: No. According to an advisory issued by tripartite partners - the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), National Trades Union Congress and Singapore National Employers Federation - employees should immediately inform their employer when they test positive, and begin self-isolation at home. They should not report to the workplace.

Those who cannot work from home should not be required to submit an MC. Employers should treat their period of absence, while self-isolating at home, as paid sick leave.

Q: What if I do not have enough sick leave to cover my period of isolation?

A: MOM advises employers to "exercise compassion and flexibility in supporting the needs" of employees. The ministry notes that every employee who has at least three months of service is entitled to up to 60 days of paid sick leave, including hospitalisation leave, which "should generally" suffice to cover self-isolation.

Employees should not be asked to take no-pay leave for the period of self-isolation.

Q: What if I test positive and can work from home?

A: The tripartite advisory states that employees who are physically well should be allowed to work from home if they are able to do so. They do not need to visit a clinic, but should self-isolate at home for 72 hours.

For those with mild symptoms and a five-day MC issued by a doctor, employers should similarly treat the period of absence as paid sick leave.

Q: Can I go back to my workplace before the five-day MC is up, if I feel well?

A: Employees should still self-isolate for 72 hours, and self-administer an antigen rapid test (ART) after. If the result is negative and there are no symptoms, they can return to office without waiting for the MC to expire.

If the result is positive, the employee should continue to self-isolate, and take an ART every 24 hours. If the result is positive, the employee should continue to self-isolate, and take an ART every 24 hours. Self-isolation can end either with a negative ART result, or on the seventh day if the employee is vaccinated and on the 14th day if unvaccinated.

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