askST: Safety measures a must for companies allowed to start from Tuesday

This is the first of a four-part Q&A series on safe management measures for businesses in Singapore.

Covid-19 safe management measures
All businesses must put in place Safe Management Measures, such as regular temperature screening for on-site employees and visitors, before they resume on-site operations on June 2. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Q: Are Safe Management Measures mandatory and who should implement them?

A: Yes, it is a must for all businesses to put in place Safe Management Measures to provide a safe working environment for employees and prevent Covid-19 transmission at the workplace before they resume on-site operations on June 2. Businesses must comply with the requirements for Safe Management Measures and any sector-specific requirements that apply to them.

Q: Can I get all my staff to come back to work on June 2?

A: No. Working from home should be the default mode of working and businesses must adopt telecommuting to the maximum extent. For example, meetings should be held virtually and service delivery should be done through digital channels as much as possible.

Employees who have been working from home so far should continue to do so. Employees may go to the office only when there is no alternative and where it is demonstrably necessary - for instance, to access systems or equipment that cannot be accessed from home, or to fulfil legal requirements, such as completing contracts or transactions.

Companies must actively enable employees to work from home. For employees who are still unable to work from home, companies should review work processes, provide the necessary IT equipment to employees, and adopt solutions that enable remote working and online collaboration.

Companies must also put in place all other Safe Management Measures at the workplace, such as implementing split teams, staggering working and break hours, ensuring clear physical spacing of at least 1m between persons, and using the SafeEntry digital check-in system to record the entry of all employees.

Employees should avoid socialising with colleagues within and outside of the workplace.

Q: How do I ensure that my employees and visitors adhere to Safe Management Measures?

A: Employers are required to ensure that Safe Management Measures are in place and communicated to employees prior to resuming work. Employers should have a plan to communicate their Safe Management Measures to employees through their internal communications channels such as e-mails, notices, and signs to remind employees and visitors to observe the measures.

Q: Would it be possible for my business to resume operations before June 2 if I have implemented all Safe Management Measures at the workplace?

A: Only businesses that have received approval from the Ministry of Trade and Industry to operate during the circuit breaker period may operate on-site before June 2. Other businesses may resume operations from June 2 if they are in the list of permitted activities and services for Phase One.

Q: What enforcement actions will be taken against businesses that do not implement Safe Management Measures?

A: Employers that do not implement proper Safe Management Measures are liable to have their operations suspended until they are able to do so.

Under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, failure to comply with Safe Management Measures is also punishable with a fine not exceeding $10,000 or jail term of up to six months or both. Repeated non-compliance shall be punishable with a fine not exceeding $20,000 or jail term of up to 12 months or both.

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