SINGAPORE - More employees who are currently working from home will be able to return to the workplace from April 5, as workplaces shift from working from home as the default to a more flexible way of working, Education Minister Lawrence Wong announced on Wednesday (March 24).
Up to 75 per cent of staff can return to the workplace at any one time, up from the current 50 per cent, said Mr Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, at a virtual press conference.
The current restriction requiring employees to work from home for at least half their working time will also be lifted, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a press statement.
Split-team arrangements are also no longer mandatory, though companies may continue to adopt such arrangements for business continuity purposes if they wish to. Restrictions on cross-deployment across workplaces remain in place, MOH added.
Mr Wong said: "We will strongly encourage employers to still stagger the start times and implement flexible working hours, and of course, employers must continue to implement all prevailing safe management measures."
Social and recreational gatherings at the workplace, such as team bonding events organised by employers, will be allowed but must be limited to no more than eight people, said MOH.
The tripartite partners, comprising the Ministry of Manpower, National Trades Union Congress and Singapore National Employers Federation, urged companies to adhere to necessary safe distancing and capacity limits in organising work-related events.
"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.
Employers must also continue to observe safe management measures such as cleaning common spaces regularly, ensuring that safe distancing is in place and that masks are worn at all times.
MOH said that enforcement action will be taken against employers who fail to comply with the safe management measures, and that will include the possibility of workplace closures.
Employers also have to be prepared that the situation is a dynamic one, it 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 reintroduced."
This article was first published in The Straits Times.