Starting from today (Monday, Sept 28), the government allows Singaporean workers who have been working from home during the pandemic to return to offices for up to half of their total working time. For this, employers must ensure that only half of their employees are working at the workplace while the rest should remain work from home.
A statement by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday (Sept 23) highlighted examples of the conditions under which employees can return to the workplace. A full-timer on a six-day work week may return to the office for up to three days a week. Meanwhile, a firm with 10 full-time employees currently working from home can split the staff into two teams of five, with each cohort to return to the workplace every alternate week while the other continues to work from home, Today Online reports.
“Returning to the workplace can either be initiated by the employee and agreed upon with the employer, or directed by the employer,” said MOH. The ministry added that with more employees returning to the workplace, employers should play their part in minimising crowding and possible congregation at common spaces, including on public transport.
In addition, split-team or shift arrangements must continue to be implemented, with each team restricted to one worksite where possible, and employers must ensure clear separation of employees on different teams or shifts.
“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,” said MOH. “This will also support employees who face particular difficulty working from home.”
Additionally, work-related events held within the workplace premises that are business-oriented will also be allowed to resume, for up to 50 people. These events include conferences, seminars, corporate retreats, annual general meetings and extraordinary general meetings.
However, larger-scale social gatherings at the workplace such as parties, celebrations and team bonding activities will not be permitted. During permissible events, there should be strict adherence to safe management measures, with at least 1m safe distancing between each employee, for example.
The ministry will also update the safe management measures for workplaces in certain areas such as rules for staff having their meals at staff canteens, taking reference from prevailing national guidelines.