Zika outbreak

Employers go the extra mile for pregnant staff

A volunteer holding an advisory notice on Zika and pregnant mothers at Pasir Ris West Plaza on Sept 3, 2016.
A volunteer holding an advisory notice on Zika and pregnant mothers at Pasir Ris West Plaza on Sept 3, 2016. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

In the wake of the Zika outbreak, some employers are taking steps to safeguard their staff, especially pregnant ones.

The Ministry of Education for instance, in addition to advising pregnant teachers to take precautionary measures against mosquito bites, said schools are reviewing outdoor activities for them.

Some firms are allowing their employees to work from home to cut down on their exposure to mosquitoes during travel.

Senior human resource consultant Roxanne Lu took up this offer from accounting firm 3E.

"It helps a lot because I feel less exposed as I don't have to travel to and from work. I can also rest a bit at home," said the 30-year-old, who is seven months pregnant.

She mostly works over e-mail while at home. But given that the virus seems to be settling in for the long run, she said she may consider returning to the office during peak periods so she can have face-to-face discussions with her colleagues.

The firm also installed mosquito traps in its office yesterday.

Managing director Lawrence Chai also brought $1,500 worth of insect repellent back from Kuala Lumpur for his 26 staff.

Zika, which is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, has been linked to microcephaly in unborn babies. The condition causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads.

At OCBC Bank, mums-to-be can also choose to work from home if their job scopes permit it and their supervisors allow it.

The bank is also ramping up efforts to get rid of mosquitoes on its premises.

Said a spokesman: "Given that vector control is currently the best defence, we have stepped up measures to inspect all premises and conduct the necessary fumigation to ensure the premises are not breeding grounds."

To be on the safe side, the bank will also do additional fumigation at some of its stand-alone branches in areas such as Upper Thomson, Sixth Avenue and North Bridge Road, even though these are not Zika-affected areas.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2016, with the headline 'Employers go the extra mile for pregnant staff'. Print Edition | Subscribe