COVID-19: Working From Home Post-Circuit Breaker
Find out your obligations on work from home arrangements post-circuit breaker.
Employees who are able to work from home will be expected to continue to do so for the foreseeable future beyond the circuit breaker period. Businesses that require on-site work such as those in the manufacturing and production-based services sector, will need to be prepared for a phased reopening of the economy, which will be based on how well they have adopted safety measures within and outside of the workplace.
In this respect, the tripartite partners have issued an advisory on ‘Requirements for Safe Management Measures at the workplace after Circuit Breaker period’ and details on Safe Management Measures required of employers which will be allowed to resume their operations.
Do you know your obligations with regard to work from home arrangements post-circuit breaker?
Q1. Is there a minimum percentage 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. 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.
The onus is on employers to show that they have made a reasonable effort to facilitate working from home for all days and at all times, including reviewing and transforming business processes through technology to support remote working, e.g. e-payment, e-invoicing, e-signatures. Annex B – Resources to assist companies provides a list of resources such as technology solutions and grants available to assist companies.
Q2. Are there any available resources to help my business review work processes to enable my employees to work from home?
Yes, IMDA provides a list of digital solutions and resources that aims to make business continuity essentials more accessible to businesses.
Eligible businesses can also apply for the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) or Work-Life Grant (WLG) for flexible work arrangements to support business transformation and put in place flexible work arrangements to minimise spread of COVID-19 (e.g. work from home, staggered hours).
Q3. 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?
For employees who are still working in the workplace, employers must demonstrate the business or operational reasons why the workers are unable to work from home despite review and redesign of work processes. 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.
At the same time, employers should put in place other Safe Management Measures at the workplace (e.g. ensuring safe distancing, ensuring use of SafeEntry, etc) to provide a safe working environment and minimise risk of further outbreaks.
Special attention should also be paid to vulnerable employees to enable them to work from home, including temporarily redeploying these employees to another role within the company that is suitable for working from home.
For more FAQs on Safe Management Measures at the workplace after Circuit Breaker period, visit the Ministry of Manpower’s website here.
Browse TAFEP’s Resources page for more information such as tips for employers to better telecommuting and introducing staggered time.