1. Will all my staff be allowed to return to office once I resume operations? Do we still need to have split teaming?
Employers must put in place safe management measures before resuming workplace activities, in order to provide a safe working environment and prevent transmission at the workplace.
Employers should ensure that employees whose functions can be done remotely (e.g. by telecommuting) continue to do so. All employers and employees must also adhere to the Safe Management Measures at all times.
If telecommuting is not possible, employers should split their employees into teams. There should be no cross-deployment/interaction between employees in different teams or worksites, even outside of work.
2. Would having split team arrangements with employees working from two or more different workplaces or worksite count as fulfilling the requirements to work-from-home for at least half of employees’ working time?
For employees who are able to work-from-home, employers must ensure that they continue to do so for at least half their working time. Working from a different workplace or worksite will not be considered as fulfilling the requirement to work-from-home for at least half of employees’ working time.
3. Are companies that have resumed operations required to ensure that their employees work from home?
Working-from-home remains the default mode of working, and all employers should provide the facilities necessary and direct every worker to work-from-home, as far as reasonably practicable.
From 28 September, employees who are able to work-from-home may return to the workplace to better support work and business operations. For employees whose jobs can be performed from home, employers must ensure that they continue to do so for at least half their working time, measured over a reasonable period of time. This is to limit employees’ exposure at the workplace. Return to the workplace can either be initiated by the employee and agreed upon with the employer, or directed by the employer. In addition, employers must ensure that no more than half of employees who are able to work-from-home are at the workplace at any point in time. This will help to limit the number of workers exposed at the workplace at any point in time, and reduce crowding in common areas e.g. pantries, toilets, lifts. For more information on MOM’s Safe Management Measures requirements at the workplace, please refer here.
Enforcement checks will be conducted and actions will be taken against business for non-compliances, including failure to ensure employees work-from-home for at least half their working time where possible.
4. Is there a minimum % or number of workers that employers must place on work-from-home arrangements?
The overarching objective of the requirements is to reduce physical interactions in the workplace in order to minimise spread of COVID-19. Working-from-home remains the default mode of working. Employers should focus on providing the facilities necessary and directing every worker to work-from-home, as far as reasonably practicable. The proportion of employees that can do so will vary in different workplaces and sectors due to differing operational requirements. For more information, please refer here.
5. As most of my employees are either doing frontline work or fieldwork operations, it is not feasible for me to rearrange the work such that they can work-from-home. Will I be penalised for not providing such work arrangements?
Employers must demonstrate the business or operational reasons why the workers working at the workplace are unable to work-from-home despite review and redesign of work processes. Our inspectors will assess the efforts put in by companies to implement work-from-home arrangements based on the practicality of whether the workers can work-from-home given the nature of the job.
6. Will I be penalised if I am unable to fully implement shift or split team arrangements or avoid cross-deployment in the workplace due to the nature of my business?
If shift or split team arrangements cannot be implemented or cross-deployment cannot be avoided due to the nature of the jobs, additional safeguards must be taken to minimise the risk of cross infection (e.g. systemic arrangements are in place to ensure no direct contact with the cross-deployed personnel).
Other Safe Management Measures should still be adhered to in order to ensure a safe working environment and minimise outbreaks. For more information, please refer here.
7. Are companies required to ensure staggered start times and implement flexible workplace hours for employees at the workplace?
Employers must stagger start times such that employees do not arrive at the workplace at the same time, where possible.
Employers should stagger the start times for all employees such that at least half of all employees at the workplace start work in the workplace at or after 10am, as far as possible. This 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. For employees who can work-from-home but who return to the workplace, employers should also 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. For more information, please refer here.
8. Are employees and visitors required to wear a mask at all times at the workplace?
For general office workplaces, employers must ensure that employees and visitors wear a mask at all times at the workplace, except during activities that require masks to be removed (e.g eating) or when individuals are alone in their own office with the door closed. Supplementary personal protective equipment is encouraged, whenever relevant (more guidelines can be found in sector-specific guidelines). This is in addition to other Safe Management Measures (e.g. safe distancing) that must be in place at the workplace.
Some examples of activities where the requirement for masks to be worn can be waived include mealtimes, or where other equipment must be worn during the course of work (e.g. motorcycle helmets). In addition, if an individual is alone in his or her own office with the door closed, and no other person enters the room, the individual may remove his or her mask in the room. If the room door is opened or if there is any contact with people, a mask must be used.
Where possible, employers should consider improving the working environment for employees to enable them to wear their masks.
9. What should I do if my employees are unwilling to work from home because their home is not conducive for work?
The overarching objective of these regulations is to reduce physical interactions in order to prevent spread of COVID-19. Employers are required to provide the facilities necessary and direct every worker to work-from-home for at least half their working time, as far as reasonably practicable, and ensure that no more than half of employees who are able to work-from-home are at the workplace at any point in time.
For employees whose jobs can be performed from home, employers must ensure that they continue to do so for at least half their working time, measured over a reasonable period of time. In addition, employers must ensure that no more than half of employees who are able to work-from-home are at the workplace at any point in time. Employers must demonstrate the business or operational reasons why the workers are unable to work-from-home for the required duration despite review and redesign of work processes and arrangements. For more information, please refer here.
10. What should I take note of if I am really unable to telecommute and need to be in the office?
You will need to adhere to Safe Management Measures while working in the office. These include undergoing temperature screenings and declarations, wearing masks at all times, practising good personal hygiene and keeping at least one metre distance from others. If you feel unwell, you must not go to work.
Functions that can be done through email, telephone or videoconferencing should be conducted remotely. Employers should review work processes, provide the necessary IT equipment to employees and adopt solutions that enable remote working and online collaboration.
11. Is there a limit on the number of attendees in a physical meeting?
Physical meetings are regarded as work-related events and are allowed to proceed with a cap of 50 physical attendees. They will also be subject to other Safe Management Measures being put in place, depending on the specific premises where the event is being held.
12. Can I have a meal with my colleagues at F&B outlets?
You may socialise with colleagues in the same shift, team or worksite, in groups within and outside of the workplace, subject to prevailing community social gathering rules and group size limits. Safe distancing of at least 1 metre should be maintained between groups at all times.
13. Can employees use the recreational facilities (e.g. gyms, lounges) at the workplace in Phase 2?
Recreational facilities at workplaces should follow the re-opening plans for relevant permitted enterprises and adhere to the required Safe Management Measures (e.g. maintaining a distance of at least 2 – 3 metres from each other when engaging in any sporting activity or physical exercise). When visiting such facilities, employees will still have to comply with the relevant Safe Management Measures put in place for that setting.
14. Can employees use employer-provided recreational facilities which are not located at the workplace?
Access to standalone recreational facilities which are located away from employees’ workplaces will depend on the re-opening plans for relevant permitted enterprises.
These facilities will also be subject to stricter safe management measures (e.g. maintaining a distance of at least 2 – 3 metres from each other when engaging in any sporting activity or physical exercise).
When visiting such facilities, employees will still have to comply with the relevant safe management measures put in place for that setting.
Yes, work-related events will be allowed to resume at third-party venues, subject to any additional premises owners’ safe management policies.