The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has shut down three workplaces that made staff go back to working on-site unnecessarily when their work could have been completed from home. MOM also fined 14 companies for not complying with safe management measures (SMM).
Although Singapore’s COVID-19 circuit breaker ended on Monday (1 June), the Government has announced that some restrictions will remain and that the re-opening will take place gradually in three phases to curb a second wave of coronavirus infections. MOM urged all companies to continue adopting working from home as a default option.
The MOM made it mandatory for employees who have been working from home to continue doing so even after the circuit breaker ended, unless there is a reason they must be on-site and there is no alternative. The ministry warned last Friday (29 May) that it would conduct checks and shut down companies that do not comply with the rules.
In a Facebook post published on Wednesday (3 June), the MOM revealed that it carried out island wide enforcement operations in 200 workplaces the first two days after the circuit breaker ended to see if businesses are implementing SMM and trying to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread in their offices.
The MOM shared: “Three workplaces have been asked to cease operations. These workplaces did not put in place adequate SMM, including instructing all their employees to return to the office instead of making provisions to allow employees to continue working from home. MOM has also issued 14 composition fines to employers for breaching SMM requirements.”
While the ministry acknowledges that employers may be eager to resume work as per normal after the two month circuit breaker, employees who are able to work from home should do so. MOM’s Occupational Safety and Health Division’s divisional director Silas Sng said:
“It is understandable that some employers may be eager to bring their employees back to work in the office after two months of circuit breaker. However, we would like to remind employers that working from home must remain the default working arrangement for employees who are able to do so.”
If employees lodge complaints with the MOM about being asked to return to work on-site when there is no real reason for them to do so, the ministry will ask the companies to explain their actions before taking action. The MOM assured that it will “take enforcement action accordingly in order to protect employees.”
The Ministry added: “We urge all employers and workers to take Safe Management Measures seriously, so that we can protect our workplaces and one another.”
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