SINGAPORE - Companies implementing telecommuting and staggered work hours amid stricter restrictions to tackle Covid-19 will have easier access to government funding, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower Low Yen Ling on Tuesday (April 7).
They will only need to have their workers on flexi-work arrangements for one month, instead of six months, in order to qualify for the Ministry of Manpower's existing Work-Life Grant.
The grant provides $2,000 for every local worker on flexi-work, up to 35 workers per firm. It does not cover company officers, such as owners, shareholders and directors, listed in the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority directory.
Ms Low told Parliament that companies can start applying under the new parameters from April 20, and the lower requirements will apply after the mandatory "circuit breaker" period ends.
Most workplaces - aside from those offering essential services and in key economic sectors - are closed for four weeks from Tuesday (April 7) until May 4 in order to break the chain of transmission of the coronavirus.
Firms which can continue to operate remotely have been encouraged to do so.
Ms Low said the Work-Life Grant can be used to buy laptops, software and related equipment for telecommuting.
"In the immediate term, adopting (flexi-work arrangements) will help companies overcome the present challenges posed by Covid-19," she said during the debate on the Supplementary Budget.
"In the long run, (flexi-work arrangements) will help companies ride the wave of changing workplace norms, become a more inclusive, caring, and also attractive employer, and thereby attracting better talent."
She cited how companies that had already implemented flexi-work before the crisis, such as telco Singtel and law firm Allen & Gledhill, were better able to quickly start their business continuity plans.
She also said that the ministry has improved support for redeployment programmes under the Adapt and Grow initiative to help companies positioning themselves for the eventual recovery.
More than 100 firms have already applied for new redeployment programmes for the tourism, aviation, retail and food services sectors, which is expected to benefit more than 2,600 workers, she added.
She highlighted travel agency SITA World Travel, which has two staff who will be reskilled under the new digital marketing place-and-train programme to support the company's online platform.
Orchard Hotel also has close to 50 staff on the job redesign place-and-train programme for the hotel industry, to equip them with more skills in hotel operations and expand their job scopes.
"Despite cost pressures, both companies decided to take a longer-term perspective by holding onto their workers and helping the workers acquire new skills," said Ms Low.
"Employers who look after their staff are well-placed to gain from their workers' loyalty in the long-run, especially when the up-turn comes."