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11 firms fined for not ensuring work-from-home as default arrangement; authorities to increase workplace inspections

11 firms fined for not ensuring work-from-home as default arrangement; authorities to increase workplace inspections

Office workers scan a SafeEntry QR code amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Singapore, May 12, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Dawn Chua)

SINGAPORE: Eleven companies have been fined for failing to ensure work-from-home as a default arrangement for employees who are able to do so, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) on Monday (May 24).

The penalised companies were among more than 530 workplaces inspected between May 8 and May 21, the ministries said in a press release.

On May 8, Singapore reduced the proportion of employees allowed to return to the workplace to 50 per cent, down from 75 per cent.

Since May 16, this has been further tightened to working from home as the default.

MOM and MTI said they would be increasing inspections of workplaces to ensure that the latest guidelines are properly implemented.

In response to CNA's queries, MOM said the 11 companies were issued fines of S$1,000 each. 

"MOM is unable to release details of the companies involved," said the Manpower Ministry.

CNA has contacted MTI for details on the 11 firms that were fined.

READ: New COVID-19 measures in Singapore: What is allowed under the tighter restrictions?

"All employees whose roles can be performed from home must do so. Employers must provide the necessary facilities and direct their employees to work from home wherever possible," said the ministries.

Only employees who are unable to work from home due to the nature of their work, such as requiring access to equipment only available at the workplace, can continue to work on-site, they added.

MOM and MTI also reminded all employers who carry out operations on-site to declare their manpower details online by May 28 and update the information whenever there are significant changes.

"Regardless of the declared number of workers, it is the employer's responsibility to ensure that all employees (work from home) if they are able to do so," said the ministries.

Enforcement action will be taken against the employer if workers who are able to work from home are found working on-site. This is even if the total number of workers on-site is at or below the declared number of workers, said the ministries.

READ: Guarding against pandemic fatigue in Singapore's COVID-19 fight

Under the tightened regulations, which are in place through Jun 13, social gatherings at the workplace are also not allowed.

Employees can have meal breaks in the workplaces but these should be taken individually and at staggered times. 

Employers should continue to stagger the start times of employees who need to return to the workplace and implement flexible working hours.

There should also be no cross-deployment of workers across workplaces or worksites.

Masks must continue to be worn at the workplace at all times.

Breaches of workplace safety measures can be reported through the SnapSAFE app. The identities of whistle-blowers will be kept strictly confidential, said the ministries.

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Source: CNA/dv

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