No workplace gatherings, socialising among employees when office operations resume after COVID-19 circuit breaker: MOM

No workplace gatherings, socialising among employees when office operations resume after COVID-19 circuit breaker: MOM

a couple wearing face masks walk past the Merlion statue in Singapore
In this photo taken on Mar 14, 2020, a couple wearing face masks walk past the Merlion statue in Singapore. (Photo: AP/Ee Ming Toh)

SINGAPORE: Employees should not socialise during or outside working hours, even when office operations resume during Phase 1 of Singapore’s reopening following the end of the COVID-19 "circuit breaker" period.

Workers should also have their meals and breaks on their own, the Ministry of Manpower said on Friday (May 29) in an update on its requirements for safe management measures at the workplace.

All social gatherings at the workplace must also be cancelled or deferred as there was still a need to minimise socialising to reduce community transmission, the ministry added.

Such activities include birthday celebrations and team bonding activities.

As businesses move to resume operations on Jun 2 after the end of the circuit breaker, MOM said safety measures were still needed to minimise the risk of widespread re-emergence of COVID-19 in the community.

READ: COVID-19: Phase 2 of post-circuit breaker reopening could begin before end-June, says Lawrence Wong

The ministry first shared its requirements for safe management measures at the workplace on May 9. 

The guidelines included encouraging employees to download and activate the TraceTogether app, and to wear face masks and other necessary personal protective equipment at all times.

MOM said in its update that working from home should remain as the default for all companies, including those resuming operations in Phases 1 and 2.

Employees who have been doing so thus far must continue to do so, and should go to the office only where there is no alternative.

The ministry said checks will be conducted and businesses whose workers do not adhere to these guidelines may have to close their workplaces.

As part of the requirements, employers must use the SafeEntry visitor management system to record the entry of all personnel to the workplace.

All individuals must also declare prior to entry that they are currently not under a quarantine order or stay-home notice. Employees must also state that they have not had close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the past 14 days, and do not have fever or flu-like symptoms.

READ: COVID-19: Retailers struggle amid uncertainties about reopening, recovery of sales

MOM said employers using SafeEntry are no longer required to keep these declaration records for 28 days as the system has been enhanced to allow individuals to make these declarations during the check-in process.

This update will streamline workplace entry, said the ministry.

Businesses must also continue to ensure that there are regular checks for temperature and respiratory symptoms, at least twice daily or where relevant.

MOM said these checks can now be conducted by the employer or another party, such as the landlord.

During inspections, employers can demonstrate that the checks are in place by providing records of temperature checks. Alternatively, they can now demonstrate this by showing the facilities, such as a thermal scanner or temperature screening station.

READ: Travelling or telecommuting – how COVID-19 could affect public transport costs in Singapore

Employers, transport providers and drivers must also ensure safe management measures are implemented when ferrying workers on all employer-provided transportation, said MOM.

All workers must wear a mask at all times when seated in the vehicle and they should not talk or interact.

When using a lorry or van, the clear floor space of the deck available for each seated passenger shall not be less than 0.496 sq m.

MOM said this means a 25 per cent reduction of the maximum passenger capacity (MPC) allowable for each lorry or van. For example, if the MPC label states 36 pax, it is to be reduced to 27 passengers.

Employers must also arrange private transportation for workers staying in dormitories to commute to and from their workplaces, and with no other passengers.

“These measures are necessary to prevent cross-infections between migrant workers living in dormitories and the community, in both directions. If necessary, employers should make provisions for additional trips or vehicles.”

READ: Timeline of coronavirus infection among Singaporeans and permanent residents

MOM said the tripartite partners will continue to update the requirements periodically to take into account further medical advice, technological updates and operational practices.

“These updates will help employers to keep workplaces safe amidst the fluid COVID-19 situation, while streamlining processes where possible.”

MOM reminded employers to comply with the requirements and urged employees to adhere to the safe management measures.

All personnel are encouraged to use the SnapSAFE app to report any workplace breaches of the requirements, such as employees being asked to return to office instead of working from home. 

Further information about the requirements can be found on the MOM website.

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Source: CNA/zl

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