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COVID-19: More employees may return to the workplace, split teams not required from Apr 5

COVID-19: More employees may return to the workplace, split teams not required from Apr 5

Office workers wearing protective face masks walk in Singapore's central business district, during the COVID-19 outbreak in Singapore on Aug 17, 2020. (File Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su)

SINGAPORE: More employees may return to the workplace from Apr 5 and split team arrangements will no longer be mandatory as Singapore eases some COVID-19 measures.  

The country will shift from working-from-home as a default mode to a more “flexible and hybrid way” of working, announced co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force Lawrence Wong on Wednesday (Mar 24). 

Up to 75 per cent of the employees presently able to work from home can now be at the workplace at any one time, up from the current 50 per cent, he said at a press conference.

The current cap on the time an employee spends at the workplace will also be lifted.

READ: Back to the office: 7 things you need to know as Singapore shifts to more flexible way of working amid COVID-19

“We will no longer mandate the requirement for splitting teams, but we will strongly encourage employers to still stagger the start times and implement flexible working hours, and of course, employers must continue to implement all prevailing safe management measures,” said Mr Wong, who is also Education Minister.

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Such measures will help to lower COVID-19 transmission risks by reducing interactions and crowding at common spaces, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a press release on Wednesday.

MOH added that while split team arrangements are no longer mandatory, companies may continue to adopt such arrangements for business continuity purposes if they choose to do so.

Restrictions against cross-deployment across workplaces remain in place. 

Social and recreational gatherings, such as team bonding events organised by the employer, will be allowed but must be limited to no more than eight people.

“In organising work-related events, companies are reminded to adhere to the necessary safe distancing and capacity limits to keep employees and stakeholders safe," said the ministry.   

"Due to the higher risk of transmission when people are unmasked, meals should not be the main feature of the event, and companies should avoid holding events over mealtimes as far as possible."

READ: COVID-19 vaccination now open to Singapore residents aged 45 to 59

As more people return to the workplace, the tripartite partners urge companies to remain vigilant, said MOH, adding that employers must continue to implement safe management measures such as regular cleaning of common spaces, demarcating safe physical distancing and mask-wearing at all times.

The tripartite partners are the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF).

Enforcement action will be taken against employers who fail to comply with the safe management measures, and that includes the possibility of workplace closures. 

Employers also have to be prepared that the situation is a “dynamic” one, said MOH.

“If there is increased risk of COVID-19 resurgence, we will have to adjust our posture and more stringent measures at workplaces will have to be re-introduced,” it added.

Watch the full news conference and Q&A session:

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Source: CNA/ja(gs)


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