WFH Rules On Workplaces Exposed To COVID-19 Relaxed
SINGAPORE – The authorities have eased the recent snap work-from-home (WFH) regime, reported The Straits Times on Monday evening (20 September, SGT).
Earlier this month, Singapore’s government announced that if a staff tests positive for COVID-19 and reported to their workplace on any of the past 7 days, the employer is required to implement a snap 14-day WFH regime for all employees who are able to do so from the date of positive test result.
But starting on Wednesday (22 September), the snap work-from-home regime will only apply if 3 or more staff working in the same premises are found to have been infected. Also, the WFH duration has been reduced to 10 days from 14 days previously, and it will commence on the day after the date of the latest positive test result of the third staff.
The lower mandated WFH period is in accordance with the reduced quarantine period of 14 days to 10 days for close contacts of positive cases.
Singapore’s government relaxed the snap WFH regime to account for the Delta variant’s shorter average incubation period of about four days and below.
Moreover, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said that employees, including on-site vendors and contractors, who had to comply with snap WFH arrangements will be allowed to return to their workplaces for ad-hoc reasons if their antigen rapid test (ART) comes out as negative.
The ART should be completed before the staff returns to the office, and should not be performed over 24 hours before the end of their ad-hoc return to the workplace.
The Ministry explained that the goal of the lower WFH period is to alleviate possible disruptions to commercial operations. This is because several business leaders gave feedback that the longer snap work-from-home duration can potentially disrupt their business operations in Singapore, especially amidst a labour shortage.
On Monday, MOM called on both employers and staff to exercise social responsibility and self-isolate if they have come into close contact with the positive cases.
“All affected employees are encouraged to monitor their health and administer ART self-swabs during the 10-day period at least twice a week, and before returning onsite,” it said.
Furthermore, the Ministry recommends that employers vacate and cordon off parts of their office where the infected staff worked, in addition to thoroughly cleaning it.