Paid Sick Leave for staff who test positive via COVID-19 antigen rapid test
Written by Clare Chong
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced on Sep 25 that staff who tested positive via an antigen rapid test (ART) should work from home or be given paid sick leave by employers.
A medical certificate is not mandatory and employers should consider the paid sick leave as outpatient or hospitalisation leave.
Individuals with positive ART result to self-isolate at home
Those who test positive via ART should also update their employer immediately and start self-isolation at home.
Following the shift in approach by the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force in handling COVID-19 positive individuals with no evident symptoms, these individuals are advised to self-isolate at home under the home recovery scheme instead of approaching clinics or hospitals.
Employers are not allowed to ask these staff to report to work even if they are physically well. Staff should not be asked to take no-pay leave during the self-isolation period and may only return to the workplace if they test negative via ART after 72 hours. Most employees are also not required to take a confirmatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test after testing positive via ART. If the staff continue to test positive via the ART after 72 hours, he/she should continue with the home recovery self-isolation and take a subsequent ART every 24 hours until tested negative.
Addressing Common Queries by Employers and Staff
An FAQ page was published by MOM to answer common questions raised by staff and employers.
A confirmatory PCR test is only required for the following groups of individuals if they test positive via ART:
- Those working in healthcare and eldercare settings
- Those working or studying in pre-schools or primary schools
- People under a quarantine order, stay-home notice or who have received a health risk warning
- Individuals who are above 80 years old and vaccinated, or aged above 70 and unvaccinated
If symptoms arise, a confirmatory PCR test may also be necessary. Those who receive a positive PCR test result will be issued quarantine or isolation orders with their family members. These employees will be on paid hospitalisation leave while under quarantine.
"Every employee who has at least three months of service is entitled to up to 60 days of paid sick leave, including hospitalisation leave, which should generally be sufficient to cover self-isolation," said MOM.
Family members of individuals who are ART-positive but physically well should also do regular ART self-tests and monitor their own health for 10 days. This applies to workplace close-contacts of ART positive cases too.
While there are no movement restrictions on ART negative employees, they should reduce social interaction as far as possible.
What are your views on the latest home recovery scheme for those who tested positive via ART?