COVID-19: More people allowed to return to workplace, subject to conditions like capacity limits

COVID-19: More people allowed to return to workplace, subject to conditions like capacity limits

Office workers wearing protective face masks walk in Singapore's central business district
Office workers wearing face masks are seen in Singapore's central business district, Aug 17, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su)

SINGAPORE: As community cases of COVID-19 remain low in Singapore, authorities will allow more people to go back to the workplace from Sep 28, subject to conditions. 

Among employees who are able to work from home, no more than half should return to the workplace at any point in time, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday (Sep 23).  

In addition, employees should continue to work from home for at least half their working time. 

"Working from home remains the default mode of working," said MOH. 

READ: 12 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore, including 1 community infection

READ: COVID-19: Legal cut-off age for children to wear masks to be raised to 6 years old

With more people expected to return to the workplace, authorities are encouraging employers to stagger reporting times, as well as implement flexible work arrangements to avoid travel during peak hours.

"In particular, we would like employers to put in place arrangements for the employees to be able to work partly at home and partly at the workplace. So it doesn't have to be (an) 'either-or' (arrangement) but it can be a combination of both," said co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force Lawrence Wong during a press conference on Wednesday.

"For example, they can (work) in blocks of 10am to 4pm, or 1(pm) to 5pm in the office, and then the rest of the time they can work from home. So these sorts of hybrid combinations should be adopted by employers," he added. 

READ: COVID-19 restrictions eased further on worship services, wedding receptions; up to 100 attendees allowed

READ: Singapore to pilot business travel pass for senior executives with regional, international responsibilities

Companies must also continue to implement split team arrangements.

“This update has been carefully considered to balance the concerns of employers regarding the impact of extended periods of working-from-home on productivity and workplace relations, while creating safe workplaces for employees,” MOH said. 

Safe management measures related to specific areas in the workplace such as staff canteens will also be updated. But in general, employers must continue to ensure clear physical spacing of at least one metre in areas like meeting rooms, and demarcate safe physical distances, MOH said. 

READ: With the coronavirus still in our midst, what does the future hold for the workplace?

READ: More than 10,000 taxi, private-hire drivers test negative for COVID-19, shows 'low prevalence' in community: MOH

“Non-compliance with SMMs (safe management measures) may result in penalties such as suspension of on-site operations, fines, and withholding of payouts for government support schemes and grants,” MOH said.

WORK-RELATED EVENTS AT WORKPLACE MAY RESUME

Work-related events within the office space that are business-oriented will also be allowed to resume. 

These include conferences, seminars, corporate retreats, annual general meetings and extraordinary general meetings. Up to 50 people can attend these events, and safe management measures must be adhered to.

READ: COVID-19 restrictions eased further on worship services, wedding receptions; up to 100 attendees allowed

READ: COVID-19: Legal cut-off age for children to wear masks to be raised to 6 years old

MOH said it is considering allowing the resumption of work-related events at external venues at a later date. 

Larger-scale social gatherings such as team bonding activities and gala dinners are still not permitted, whether they are within or outside the workplace.

Watch the full press conference: 


BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the coronavirus outbreak and its developments

Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram

Source: CNA/rp(gs)

Bookmark