ART testing for employees

Even if employees feel well, they cannot report to the workplace and must work from home. If they are unable to do so, they should be placed on paid sick leave.

Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has confirmed the work and leave arrangements for employees who test positive on the COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test (ART) but are physically feeling well, in a new advisory released on 25 September 2021 (Saturday).

Individuals who are physically well are described as having "no evident symptoms like fever, cough, or runny nose". 

The following are the steps to follow for self-isolation of ART-positive but physically well employees:

  1. Self-isolate at home for 72 hours. [Click here for guidelines on ART self-testing]

  2. There is no need for these employees to undergo a confirmatory Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test after getting the first positive ART result. However, a confirmatory PCR test must be done in cases of:
    • All persons who are working in healthcare and eldercare settings
    • All persons who work or study in pre-schools or primary schools
    • Persons with specific risks factors:
      • Persons under a quarantine order (QO), stay-home notice (SHN) or have received a Health Risk Warning (HRW) SMS
      • Persons aged above 80 years old (vaccinated) or above 70 years old (unvaccinated)

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

Work and leave arrangements for ART-positive but physically well employees under self-isolation

The first step for employees who test positive on ART is to immediately inform their employer as well as begin their self-isolation at home, instead of rushing to the nearest General Practitioner clinic or hospital, which may risk exposure to other infections. 

Employers need to take note of the following guidelines once informed about an ART-positive employee:

  1. Employers cannot ask ART-positive employees to report to the workplace.
  2. ART-positive employees should be allowed to work from home if they are able to do so.
  3. If working from home is not possible, employers should treat the period of absence as paid sick leave – either paid outpatient sick leave or paid hospitalisation leave, without requiring a medical certificate.
  4. Employees should not be asked to take no-pay leave for the period of self-isolation.
  5. Employees may return to the workplace when they get a negative ART result after 72 hours.

Other scenarios to keep in mind

  • In cases where employees are household members of ART-positive but physically well individuals, they should monitor their health for 10 days and do regular ART self-test.
  • Other employees who are workplace close contacts of the ART-positive employee are advised to monitor their health for 10 days and do regular ART self-test. There are no movement restrictions on these employees so long as their ART self-test results are negative.
    • This means that they can return to the workplace if they are unable to work from home. But, they should limit interactions with others as much as possible.

Lead photo / 123RF 

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