MOM clarifies stance on COVID-19 vaccine

Tripartite partners are in talks over staff vaccination rules

MOM clarifies stance on COVID-19 vaccine

Employers, unions and government leaders in Singapore are considering a possible approach to COVID-19 staff vaccinations; however, immunisation is still optional. A tripartite memo will be circulated “at the appropriate time,” according to the Ministry of Manpower.

“The tripartite partners are continuing their discussions on acceptable employer policies with respect to vaccination of their workforce,” the MOM said. The statement was made in connection with MP Yip Hon Weng’s questions on the immunisation of workers, particularly frontliners and other high-risk personnel. The Q&A centred on the policies and processes surrounding these efforts.

Read more: Vaccination: What’s HR’s role in managing employees?

“Both employers and unions are mindful that vaccination is voluntary,” said Minister Josephine Teo. “At the same time, workforces with a higher rate of vaccination are likely to be more resilient against outbreaks, which can help ensure the survival of businesses, and this is ultimately also in the workers’ interest.

“Nevertheless, we are encouraged that many frontline employees in workplaces with higher risk of COVID-19 infection have been vaccinated, showing that both employers and employees see the benefits of vaccination,” the minister said.

Apart from asking for a review of guidelines, the MP also asked Teo whether there have been instances of employees being “redeployed or asked to leave their positions due to not being vaccinated” and what the process is for seeking redress for employees who feel that “they have been unfairly redeployed, dismissed or pressured to leave due to their vaccination status”.

Read more: COVID-19: Can you force employees to take the vaccine?

Teo replied: “We have not received complaints of employers punishing or penalising employees who decline vaccination. If there is a dispute, parties should approach MOM for case-specific advice and assistance.”

However, when a worker refuses to take the COVID-19 shot, HR leaders would do well to stay impartial. “There are obviously people who for various reasons would probably not wish to take the vaccine,” one expert told HRD. “It’s important for HR to be impartial and respect people’s differing opinions on the matter, and for any advice that they do provide to be impartial.”

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