To further reduce the risk of transmission of COVID19, the Singapore Government has progressively rolled out mandatory testing regimes at workplaces as an important part of Singapore’s strategy to detect and ring-fence infections in the community.
Key Testing Regimes for Workplaces
(i) Fast and Easy Testing (FET) Rostered Routine Testing (RRT) regime
The purpose of the FET-RRT regime is to further reduce the risk of transmission of COVID19 in settings with unmasked clients or where services are performed under prolonged and close contact with clients. The FET-RRT regime requires individuals to be tested once a week using the Antigen Rapid Tests (ART).
Here’s an Employer’s Guide to FET-RRT.
The Government has mentioned that they will subsidize the costs of all tests under this regime, for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, until the end of 2021.
(ii) Vaccinate or Regular Test” (VoRT) regime
The purpose of the VoRT regime is to increase the vaccination rate among the selected sectors and to empower businesses to detect possible infections among unvaccinated persons, so as to keep their
workplaces and community safe. From 1 October 2021, unvaccinated individuals working in selected sectors must be tested twice a week using ART.
Sectors that are required by law to adopt the VoRT regime are listed here. All other sectors are strongly encouraged by the Government to adopt this regime voluntarily.
Do note that the cost of the ART swab tests taken under VoRT will not be funded by the Government unless the employee is medically ineligible to receive mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. Employers can require medically eligible but unvaccinated employees to bear additional costs listed under Paragraph 6, in this updated advisory by MOH.
For reference, the updated testing requirements for sectors such as F&B, Retail, Personal Care Services, and Last Mile Delivery are:
In essence, the FET-RRT is the baseline testing requirement that applies to all individuals in high-risk sectors, whereas the VoRT testing requirement is to enforce more regular testing for unvaccinated individuals to detect and mitigate infections faster.
Both regimes are to be performed concurrently wherever applicable according to the relevant sector and agency regulations. Individuals in workplaces that are already subject to existing the FET-RRT regime can recognize any ART performed during a given week as counting towards the VoRT requirement for that same week.
For example, Amy is an unvaccinated F&B wait staff. Since her industry is under the mandatory FET-RRT regime, she is already required to be tested once a week using ART. But because she is unvaccinated, she has to perform at least one more ART 3 days later within the same week to meet the VoRT requirement of performing two tests in any given week.
If Amy is medically eligible but unvaccinated, her employer can require her to bear the cost of the second ART.
Important for businesses to stay updated on the latest developments and updates
The Government has rolled out updates to existing policies — such as using ART for frequent testing and reserving PCR tests for more serious cases. As of 10 October 2021, MOM released an updated advisory stating the implementation of new rostered routine testing (RRT), moving away from PCR-RRT (using polymerase chain reaction tests) towards FET-RRT (using ART kits).
Different sectors have different sets of requirements to adhere to. As policies are continuously being improved, be sure to check the relevant government / sector websites for the most updated information.
Visit GoBusiness to find out more about sector-specific requirements.
Penalty for businesses that do not adhere to government workplace testing regulations
As of 8 September 2021, the Ministry of Manpower reiterated that social gatherings at workplaces will not be allowed and workers should have their meal breaks at the workplace individually.
For businesses that have been found to be noncompliant with the relevant regulations, MOM and sector agencies have the right to suspend or close business operations. Employers will have to take steps to ensure that Safe Management Measures are in place before operations can resume.
The Ministry of Health will also take tougher action if there are positive cases among workers who are infected — which might mean possible jail time.
Under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, failure to comply with Safe Management Measures is punishable with a fine of up to $10,000 or imprisonment of up to 6 months or both. Repeated non-compliance is punishable with a fine of up to $20,000 or imprisonment of up to 12 months, or both.
Businesses have had to adapt quickly to accommodate these operational changes
As these Safe Management Measures and testing requirements have been rolled out progressively, businesses have had to adapt quickly in order to continue operating.
When the Government first started implementing workplace measures, many businesses were struggling under the chaos of collecting individual photos of test results and manually inserting them into excel spreadsheets. This can be extremely time-consuming and frustrating.
To manage this, many employers have adopted digital solutions to keep track of test schedules and results. Automating these processes has given businesses more time to focus on critical operational tasks.
How to manage frequent FET testing for your business
With our newly released FET-RRT Dashboard feature on KNOW, you can digitally manage and track regular ART swab-testing of your employees. Schedule notifications to remind workers to submit test results, receive automated alerts when staff is overdue for testing, and generate reports easily — all with just a few taps.