Employers that require staff with Covid-19 to submit MCs may have work pass privileges suspended

Employees who are physically well should be allowed to work from home if they are able to do so. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Employers may have their work pass privileges suspended if they require staff who tested positive for Covid-19 to submit a medical certificate (MC) or to take unpaid leave.

Under an existing tripartite advisory, such employees should be excused for the periods required under the prevailing Covid-19 health protocols without the need for an MC if working from home is not possible.

"If any employer deviates from the advisory without good reason, employees may approach the MOM (Ministry of Manpower) for assistance," said Manpower Minister Tan See Leng in a written reply to a parliamentary question on Wednesday (Jan 9).

"MOM will verify the facts with the employers and advise them to follow the advisory."

But he added that, thus far, the ministry has not encountered any employer who has wilfully refused to follow the advisory after being informed of it.

"Should this happen, MOM will suspend the work pass privileges of the employer," said Dr Tan.

The minister was responding to Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC), who had asked if there would be penalties imposed on employers that failed to comply with an advisory issued by the tripartite partners - MOM, National Trades Union Congress and Singapore National Employers Federation - on work and leave arrangements for workers with Covid-19.

According to the advisory, which was updated on Feb 24, such employees who are physically well should be allowed to work from home if they are able to do so.

If working from home is not possible, employers should treat the period of the workers' absence, during which they are self-isolating at home, as paid sick leave without requiring an MC.

"There is no need for employers to ask for a recovery memo from employees before allowing them to return to the workplace - employers should recognise a negative self-administered antigen rapid test result as proof of recovery," said the tripartite partners in the advisory.

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

In his written reply, Dr Tan said tripartite advisories are issued to guide employers on implementing employment practices in a fair and responsible manner.

They are issued after careful consideration of the interests of both employers and employees, he said, adding that employers are expected to follow the advisories.

Dr Tan had said last month that all employers here should not request MCs from workers who test positive for the coronavirus, as the healthcare system continues to face stresses from rising infections amid the Omicron wave.

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