Staff shortage amid rising Covid-19 cases: Firms advised to review business continuity plans

The advisory is intended to give employers further guidance in planning and responding to potentially high levels of workforce absence. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Employers are advised to review their business continuity plans to deal with short-term staff shortages amid the current surge in Covid-19 Omicron cases.

These include regular testing of employees who work on-site, deploying employees fulfilling critical business functions in split teams to reduce risks of disruption to operations, and developing company policies on leave and salary arrangements should operations be temporarily suspended due to the absence of employees who perform critical functions.

The tripartite partners comprising the Ministry of Manpower, National Trades Union Congress, Singapore National Employers Federation as well as the Ministry of Health (MOH) provided these suggestions in a joint advisory on Friday (Feb 4).

The advisory is intended to give employers further guidance in planning and responding to potentially high levels of workforce absence, as Singapore starts to see a rise in the number of cases infected with the more transmissible Omicron variant.

The Republic recorded 4,297 new Covid-19 cases as at noon on Thursday, according to statistics on MOH's website.

The advisory noted that in other countries which have experienced Omicron waves, staff absence due to Covid-19 infections can significantly disrupt business operations.

The multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 has thus called on employers to prepare and be ready to implement business continuity plans, adhere to safe management measures and encourage regular testing among employees to dampen transmission and minimise disruption to business operations, the advisory added.

Other measures highlighted for employers to consider in reviewing their business continuity plans include preparing communications plans to consumers or buyers in the case of delays in service delivery.

The tripartite partners urged both employers and employees to continue to work together in this period of elevated daily cases.

"In some cases, this may mean that some employees would be requested to put in more hours to cover for the absence of their colleagues.

"Employees should support their employers in these difficult times to ensure business continuity; and employers should likewise show care and concern for the health and safety of their employees, recognise their sacrifices and contributions, and reward them accordingly."

The advisory also called upon the public to be prepared to exercise patience in the case of unavoidable delays due to temporary staff shortages.

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