Work-from-home should remain default arrangement to minimise COVID-19 risk: Tripartite partners

Work-from-home should remain default arrangement to minimise COVID-19 risk: Tripartite partners

COVID-19 office workers Raffles Place (9)
Office workers at Raffles Place after the circuit breaker period. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

SINGAPORE: Employees should continue to work from home as the default arrangement to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission at the workplace, said Singapore's tripartite partners on Friday (Jan 22) amid the recent rise in community cases.

"With the higher risk of potentially more transmissible strains as well as recent trends in COVID-19 cases in the community (including at workplaces), the tripartite partners have decided to postpone any further adjustments to workplace safe management measures," said a joint press release by the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

READ: Singapore reports 1 community case among 15 new COVID-19 infections

If employees need to return to the workplace, employers are required to implement flexible work hours to allow them to report to work during off-peak periods.

"The start times for these employees should be staggered such that at least half of all employees start work in the workplace at or after 10am," they added.

"The tripartite partners call on employers to implement staggered work hours more extensively."

Companies should not organise gatherings or activities such as lohei or Chinese New Year meals as these are not considered work-related events and are not allowed under current rules, said authorities.

READ: Rules on visiting and tossing yusheng: 7 things to note this Chinese New Year amid COVID-19

More people have progressively been returning to the workplace as Singapore entered Phase 2 and 3 of its reopening. 

Peak-hour travel on public transport in January increased by 11 per cent compared to November last year, noted the tripartite partners. 

"While we understand the desire for more physical workplace interactions, we urge employers and employees to stay vigilant in the fight against COVID-19," said SNEF, NTUC and MOM. 

"The prevailing SMM (safe management measures) requirements are vital to continue safe reopening for the economy."

SEVERAL CLUSTERS IDENTIFIED

Several COVID-19 clusters have been identified in recent weeks, including one linked to a 32-year-old para-vet at the police K-9 unit who was reported as the sole community case on Jan 14.

Six other cases have been linked to the cluster so far, including the para-vet's wife, an administrative officer at the K-9 unit, the administrative officer’s wife and their eight-year-old son. 

READ: Para-vet cluster: K-9 unit remains operational; only 1 COVID-19 case out of 95 officers tested, says SPF

Another cluster, involving a 33-year-old food processing worker at Golden Bridge Foods Manufacturing, was formed on Tuesday after two more cases were identified. 

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Health identified a cluster linked to a 39-year-old sales personnel at BS Industrial & Construction Supply. He was confirmed to have COVID-19 on Jan 18.

The cluster now has seven cases, five of whom work at the same company.

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Source: CNA/kv(gs)

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