More employers in Singapore mandate vaccines for new hires

Jab requirement is the latest hiring trend

More employers in Singapore mandate vaccines for new hires

Mandating vaccinations remains a contentious topic for both existing employees and jobseekers. That hasn’t stopped employers in Singapore from including vaccination requirements in their job ads. According to Indeed’s data, by end of September the number of job ads mandating or encouraging candidates to be fully vaccinated was a whopping 19 times higher than just two months before.

The spike was in tandem with a surge in hiring activity across the city-state. Despite a continued rise in COVID-19 cases in September, hiring activity reached a new high. This was seen across sectors and job functions, suggesting an uptick in business recovery as companies seek either to hire for existing or new positions. Indeed’s date showed that job postings have been “well above” pre-pandemic levels for most job roles.

Read more: Should your company consider a vaccine mandate?

Callam Pickering, APAC economist at Indeed shared insights into the ongoing hiring trend of mandating vaccinations for recruits. “Greater vaccination requirements is a global hiring trend that we have seen across a range of countries,” Pickering said. “Singapore’s vaccination requirements are relatively low by global standards but are growing rapidly. This indicates strong support for the government’s push for higher vaccination levels amongst the populace in order to return to endemic levels.”

The government has been pushing ahead with plans to reopen the country and live with COVID-19 despite a spike in infections as well as a daily death toll. The ‘endemic’ strategy involves a continued push to achieve high vaccination rates, with the latest plan being a rollout of booster shots to eligible residents.

How to legally mandate vaccines for new hires

While HR and business leaders have been encouraged to play their part at work to help achieve high vaccination rates, the shots remain voluntary in Singapore. Similarly, the government has made vaccine booster shots optional for all residents.

Thus, on the topic of vaccine requirements for new hires, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has offered guidelines for employers to avoid any legal risk or claims of discrimination. According to MOM, firms can only impose the requirement on new hires if all existing employees in the same role are fully vaccinated.

Read more: Can you require new hires to be vaccinated?

In a webinar by the Singapore HR Institute, panellist Hao Shuo, director of operations policy and planning, labour relations and workplaces division at MOM explained that you can legally mandate vaccines on job candidates if:

  • You’ve put in the effort to urge existing staff to get their shots, or
  • Redeployed unvaccinated staff in the job role to other departments.

However, imposing vaccinations on recruits can be an unfair practice if you haven’t enforced the same treatment to current employees. “On the other hand, if your company is very lax in your treatment of all employees – [they] can be vaccinated or unvaccinated – but somehow you only impose this requirement for new hires, we thought then it’s a bit of a harsher treatment on new hires,” said Hao Shuo.

This “harsh” policy can lead to legal risks or discrimination claims, which is why HR and employers should carefully consider including vaccination requirements for new hires in Singapore.

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