If working from home is not possible, employers are strongly encouraged to treat the period of absence as paid sick leave without requiring a medical certificate.
In line with the recent relaxation of Singapore's Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level to green starting 13 February 2023, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has updated its details on work and leave arrangements for employees who test positive for COVID-19, or have acute respiratory infection (ARI) symptoms.
The protocols have been clarified for three different situations.
My employee is physically well, but has tested positive for COVID-19. He is unable to work from home. How should I treat this period of absence?
Employees who are physically well but have self-tested positive for COVID-19 may be allowed to work from home. If working from home is not possible, employers are strongly encouraged to treat the period of absence as paid sick leave without requiring a medical certificate (MC).
Recognising that each company has different business needs, MOM encourages employers to discuss and mutually agree with employees and the union (if applicable) on the period of sick leave that may be granted without an MC to employees who tested positive for COVID-19 but are asymptomatic. If there are disputes over the period of absence, they may require employees to produce an MC for the purpose of granting paid sick leave per the Employment Act.
My employee has ARI symptoms but did not see a doctor. How should I treat this period of absence?
Medically vulnerable persons (i.e., seniors and those with chronic medical conditions) that have ARI symptoms, as well as persons with severe, prolonged, or worsening ARI symptoms, should see a doctor.
Under the Employment Act, eligible employees will be entitled to paid sick leave when they are certified unfit for work by a doctor. As part of their talent attraction and retention strategies, employers may grant employees with mild ARI symptoms paid sick leave without requiring MC. In such instances, employees should maintain open communication with their employers and utilise such concessions mindfully, while ensuring that the company’s business needs are fulfilled.
If there are disputes over the period of absence, employers may require employees to produce an MC for the purpose of granting paid sick leave per the Employment Act.
My employee does not have sufficient paid sick leave. Can they be placed on no-pay leave?
Every employee who has at least three months of service is entitled to up to 60 days of paid sick leave, including hospitalisation leave.
For new employees who do not have sufficient paid sick leave entitlement to cover the period of absence, employers are encouraged to allow them to take advanced paid sick leave. In the event of contract termination which happens before the employee has completed three months of service, the employer may make the necessary salary deductions for unearned sick leave benefits.
Overall, MOM encourages employers to exercise compassion and flexibility in supporting the needs of their employees.
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