Private hire drivers, Covid-19 swabbers to be better protected under harassment law

SINGAPORE – Private hire car drivers, temperature screeners, and those who perform Covid-19 swab tests will soon be listed as public service workers and better protected under harassment laws.

From July 7, under the Protection from Harassment Act, those who abuse, harass, or dox these workers while they perform their duty will face double the maximum jail term compared with when the victim is not a public service worker.

Doxxing is publishing identifiable information about a person to harass, cause violence or fear of violence to the person.

Announcing the move in a statement on Friday (July 2), the Ministry of Home Affairs said it had reviewed the legislation for the first time since its introduction in 2014 and “identified more workers who meet the criteria for a public service worker and should receive enhanced protection against harassment”.

The new public service workers include many who provide Covid-19 services such as those who give vaccine jabs, private ambulance operators transporting patients and suspected cases, and private healthcare workers directly involved in Covid-19 operations.

Under the Act, those convicted of harassing public service workers while they perform their duties face a jail term of up to 12 months, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. The maximum punishment is six months’ jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both, for offenders whose victims are not public service workers.