As the updated workplace policies take effect, we've put together 10 things for employers and employees to remember as more of us return to the office, eg the cap on 75% of the workforce returning at any one point.

Singapore's tripartite partners recently introduced more flexibility to allow for more employees to return to the office, subject to safe management measures. This comes as a result of local community cases remaining low in the past month, and the steady progress of the vaccination programme. 

As the updated requirements take effect from 5 April 2021 (Monday), we've put together 10 things for employers and employees to remember as more of us return to the office. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, but only a guide. The full set of safe management measures is available here.

1. Upto 75% of the workforce can be at the workplace at one time

More employees may return to the workplace to better support in-person collaboration and business operations. However, employers must ensure that no more than 75% of employees who are able to work from home are at the workplace at any point in time. For example, a company with 100 employees who can work from home can have up to 75 of these employees at the workplace at any point in time. There is no limit on the proportion of an individual employee’s working time that can be spent at the workplace.

2. Employers are encouraged to support employees in working from home 

Risk of transmission remains. Employers are encouraged to support as many employees in working from home as possible. This will help to limit the number of employees exposed at the workplace at any point in time, and reduce crowding in common areas, e.g. pantries, toilets, lifts. Having more employees work from home will also help sustain business operations should a case emerge at the workplace.

3. Stagger start times to spread out staff across time and place

Employers are encouraged to stagger the start times for all employees such that at least half of all employees arrive at the workplace at or after 10am, as far as possible. If physical meetings are needed, they can be scheduled after 10 am. These measures would enable more employees to avoid peak-hour travel, especially if employees require the use of public transport. Timings of lunch and other breaks should also be staggered accordingly.

4. Allow flexible hours for employees who can work-from-home but return to the workplace

For employees who can work-from-home but who return to the workplace, employers should allow for flexible workplace hours. This is not to shorten work hours, but to allow flexibility to reduce the duration spent in the workplace, while also working from home during the day. Eg, employers could allow a proportion of their employees to work in the workplace from 10am-4pm, while fulfilling their remaining work hours from home. Employers could also allow their employees to work from home in the morning, and only return to the workplace in the afternoon (e.g. from 1-5pm).

5. No cross-deployment across worksites

No employee should work at more than one worksite. If cross-deployment cannot be avoided (e.g. due to the nature of the job), additional safeguards must be taken to minimise the risk of cross infection. However, this rule does not apply to industries / companies that need to do so due to the nature of their work. Such companies will be required to demonstrate that cross-deployment or interaction between employees is critical for business operations.

6. Only specific work-related events are allowed (no gatherings for social purposes)

Work-related events are classified as those not organised primarily for social interaction. Work-related events that are allowed to proceed are those which primarily involve employees or stakeholders, such as conferences / seminars, corporate retreats, staff training sessions, Annual General Meetings and Extraordinary General Meetings.

7. Work-related events should be capped at 50 persons and not focused around meals

The following measures have been prescribed:

  • The number of persons per event must be capped at 50 persons.
  • At least 1 metre safe distancing must be maintained between individual attendees.
  • Meals should not be the main feature of the event. Employers should avoid holding events over mealtimes as far as possible.
  • Food or drinks should only be served if incidental to the workplace event (e.g. the meeting or conference extends over lunchtime).
  • The food must be served individually with the participants seated while consuming. 

8. Social gatherings are still restricted to eight persons

All social and recreational gatherings (e.g. farewell lunch, team bonding activity) within or outside the workplace must adhere to the prevailing gathering size limit of eight persons. The total gathering size must not exceed eight persons. Gatherings involving more than a single group of eight are not allowed.

9. Masks must be worn at the workplace at all times

All onsite personnel, including employees, visitors, suppliers and contractors, must wear a mask and other necessary personal protective equipment at all times at the workplace, except during activities that require masks to be removed. Masks will have to be worn immediately after the activity is completed. Employers should ensure that they have sufficient masks for all employees.

10. Control and monitor access to the workplace

Control access at the workplace to only essential employees and authorised visitors. Employers must use the SafeEntry visitor management system to record the entry of all personnel (including employees and visitors). All employees and visitors should check-in and check-out of workplaces using SafeEntry to help MOH in establishing potential transmission chains. Personnel who are unwell (including having a fever upon temperature screening) must be refused entry to the workplace.

The full set of safe management measures is available here.

Photo / 123RF

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