self-isolation and work arrangements COVID-19 protocols

Employees who test positive should not report to the workplace. Employers should treat the period of absence as paid sick leave without requiring an MC, and shouldn't place them on no-pay leave.

Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) released, on 5 January 2022, a revised advisory for managing individuals who test positive using the Antigen Rapid Test (ART), but are either mildly symptomatic or physically well, in terms of self-isolation and work and leave arrangements.

According to the latest, such COVID-19 positive individuals are advised to self-isolate to monitor their health as it is "a risk-calibrated approach that will allow Singapore to focus the use of primary care and other healthcare resources on COVID-19 patients at higher risk of falling severely ill".

Advisory on self-isolation

Employees in Singapore who are physically well, but self-test positive are advised to self-isolate at home for 72 hours. This protocol remains unchanged as previously reported.

There is no need for these employees to visit a general practitioner (GP) clinic or hospital to undergo a confirmatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. Unless the employee belongs to the following group:

  • Persons who are working in healthcare and eldercare settings should adhere to their sectors' prevailing health protocols;
  • Persons aged 60 and above (unvaccinated), and
  • Persons who are immunocompromised.

Employees who are symptomatic should, however, see a doctor. Those who test positive at a GP clinic or hospital but are assessed to be mildly symptomatic and of low risk by the doctor will be given a five-day medical certificate (MC), and advised to self-isolate at home for 72 hours.

After 72 hours of self-isolation, the employee should do a self-ART. If the result is negative, the employee may return to work and resume daily activities. However, if the result is positive, the employee should continue to self-isolate, and take another ART every 24 hours.

Employees can end the self-isolation upon a negative self-test ART or on day 10 (for the vaccinated) or day 14 (for the unvaccinated), where day one is the date of the first positive ART test.

If an employee develops symptoms, or if the symptoms do not improve after the MC duration, he or she should see a doctor, the Ministry reminds.

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Advisory on work and leave arrangements

As the next course of action, COVID-19 positive employees should immediately inform their employer when they test positive for COVID-19, and begin their self-isolation at home. According to MOM, they should not report to the workplace.

Employees who are physically well should be allowed to work from home, if they are able to do so.

On the other hand, if they are unable to do so, employers should treat the period of absence as paid sick leave—either as paid outpatient sick leave or as paid hospitalisation leave—without requiring an MC. For those with mild symptoms, and with a five-day MC issued by a doctor, employers should likewise treat the period of absence as paid sick leave. Employees should not be asked to take no-pay leave for the period of self-isolation.

As for employees, who are household members or close workplace contacts of:

  • COVID-19-positive individuals who are physically well, they are advised to minimise contact with the affected individual, monitor their health, and obtain a negative ART result daily for the next seven days before leaving home on that day. Those who test ART-positive in the process should likewise follow the aforementioned advisories on self-isolation, and on work and leave arrangements.
  • COVID-19-positive individuals with mild symptoms, they will be issued a health risk warning (HRW), and they should follow the Ministry of Health's (MOH) protocol that legally requires them to self-isolate, and take an ART self-test within 24 hours.

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