WFH Expenses

Companies To Bear WFH Expenses; COVID-19 Restrictions Unlikely To Be Lifted Soon

SINGAPORE – Mercer’s yearly Total Remuneration Survey showed that about 50 percent of employers will pay or reimburse the work-from-home (WFH) expenses of their workers like internet bills, reported The Business Times on Friday morning (20 November, SGT).

Apart from providing their staff with laptops and smartphones, the same percentage of respondents are mulling to give more flexibility for both on-site working and remote working.

However, around 25 percent of companies in Singapore intend to implement or continue salary freezes in 2021. Still, this is lower than the 30 percent that said they halted salary increases in 2020.

As for wage reductions, only 3 percent of the respondents said they intend to do so next year versus 29 percent of businesses that made salary cuts this year.

But most companies are adopting a wait-and-see approach and are still cautious on granting salary raises as they navigate the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Businesses remain cautiously optimistic about the future and are considering more holistic talent strategies to energise their employees in the new shape of work,” said Mercer’s CEO for Singapore, Peta Latimer.

The 2020 edition of Mercer’s Total Remuneration Survey was participated by 992 firms across 16 industries.

Meanwhile, BloombergQuint reported on Thursday morning that COVID-19 restrictions could persist for over a year in Singapore, even though the city-state has entered the next phase of pandemic easing measures as cases have dwindled.

“Phase 3 is not a free-for-all. We will be in Phase 3 for quite a while because it will last until an effective vaccine or treatment is widely available,” said Singapore’s Co-chair of the Multi-Ministry Taskforce on COVID-19, Lawrence Wong, in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

Although daily community cases have fallen to 0 for 9 straight days so far, the republic has been cautiously easing COVID-19 curbs in a bid to open up its economy, which is largely dependent on tourism and trade.

Singapore, where the number of virus infections reached 58,000, is entering the last phase of COVID-19 restrictions by the end of the year, and is expected to continue to relax some curbs over the coming months.

Under Phase 3, maximum gatherings outside of homes could rise from 5 to 8 people, but wearing masks and social distancing will still be required. At this stage, there could be further loosening of curbs depending on testing capacity and availability of a working vaccine.

However, even if a vaccine has been distributed across the populace, life is unlikely to return to what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Furthermore, Wong expects businesses and employers here to be more accommodating on flexible work set-ups that enable employees to work from home.

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