Employers must be more accommodating to unvaccinated pregnant employees on alternative work arrangements: MOM

This came as Minister of Manpower, Dr Tan See Leng noted worries that some pregnant employees may still prefer to defer vaccination till after delivery.

In a written response to a Parliamentary question, Singapore’s Minister of Manpower, Dr Tan See Leng, responded to MP Yip Hon Weng’s queries on pregnant employees possibly leaving the workforce over fears of contracting COVID-19, and whether the Ministry is looking into drawing up initiatives to protect the rights of pregnant employees before they can be safely vaccinated.

In response, Dr Tan noted that there is currently no evidence to suggest that the Pfizer-BioNTech/ Comirnaty or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines cause harm to pregnant women or their foetuses. The Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination has advised that pregnant women can be vaccinated. Pregnant women may discuss with their doctors if they have any concerns.

Even so, he credited the efforts of employers in doing their part so far. “Employers have been taking all reasonable steps to keep workplaces safe and minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission through implementing Safe Management Measures (SMM),” Minister Tan replied on 14 September 2021 (Tuesday).

“The Multi-Ministry Taskforce has also announced on 6 September that we will ramp up testing at workplaces to detect and ringfence infections early to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission.”

The Minister, however, noted that a fully-vaccinated workforce, together with a regular testing regime, better ensures a safe workplace for Singaporeans. That said, he is also aware of to-be mothers’ concerns around vaccination.

“Nonetheless, we fully understand that some pregnant employees may still prefer to defer vaccination till after delivery. The tripartite partners encourage employees to raise their concerns over workplace safety with their employers and work out mutually agreeable work arrangements.”

Further, he urged employers: “We also ask employers to be more accommodating to pregnant employees’ requests for alternative work arrangements where possible, including redeployment to a lower risk setting, or work from home.”

Dr Tan noted that to date, there have been no complaints lodged from pregnant employees against their employers for ignoring workplace safety concerns. Queries from pregnant employees were generally resolved after MOM’s clarifications and advice.

“Pregnant employees should approach MOM if, after discussing their concerns with their employers, they still require assistance to reach a satisfactory outcome,” he assured.

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