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Work from home no longer the default, up to 75% can return to office

Employers should continue to stagger start times and implement flexible working hours

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Singapore – Up to 75 per cent of employees currently working from home (WFH) can return to the workplace from April 5.

A Ministry of Health (MOH) press release on Wednesday (MOH) announced, “We will shift from working-from-home as a default to a more flexible and hybrid way of working.”

The tripartite partners, comprising the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), have reviewed the safe management measures at workplaces to allow greater flexibility for businesses and employees, while limiting the risks of Covid-19 transmission, said MOH.

Although employers are encouraged to continue with WFH arrangements, more employees will be allowed to return to the workplace to better support work and business operations.

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Up to 75 per cent of the employees currently able to work from home can now be at the workplace at any one time, an increase from the current 50 per cent, said MOH. The current cap on the time an employee spends at the workplace will also be lifted.

Employers should continue to stagger start times and implement flexible working hours where possible to reduce crowding at common spaces at or near the workplace and in public places, including public transport.

The press statement noted that split team arrangements are no longer mandatory, although companies may continue to adopt such arrangements for business continuity purposes.

Restrictions against cross-deployment across workplaces remain in place, MOH added.

Employers are tasked to remain vigilant as more employees return to the workplace. Companies must continue to implement the prevailing safe management measures such as regular cleaning of common spaces, demarcating safe physical distancing and mask-wearing at all times.

MOH announced several protocols regarding work-related events, such as adhering to necessary safe distancing and capacity limits to keep employees and stakeholders safe.

“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,” said MOH.

“Enforcement actions will be taken against employers who fail to comply with the safe management measures, and that will include the possibility of workplace closures.”

With the increase in staff at workplaces, employers need to be prepared that the situation is a dynamic one. MOH said, “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.”/TISG

Read related: Amidst Covid-19, work from home can be a ‘double-edged sword’

Amidst Covid-19, work from home can be a ‘double-edged sword’

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