Coronavirus: 129 stop-work orders issued to companies not implementing safe distancing at workplace

The Ministry of Manpower said more than half of the orders served involved companies having to improve work-from-home arrangements. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - More than 850 workplaces have been inspected and 129 stop-work orders, as well as 260 remedial orders (ROs), have been served to companies in a bid to enforce safe distancing at workplaces, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in an update on Thursday (April 2).

More than half of the orders served involved companies having to improve work-from-home arrangements.

"For offices in particular, our inspections focused on compliance in implementing work from home arrangements," MOM said.

"We observed cases where employees were still working in offices, when they could perform their duties and access relevant corporate systems and information from home."

In such cases, MOM has issued an RO to the company to get its staff to work from home, as far as possible.

A remedial order is issued in cases where there are serious lapses and deficiencies in the implementation of safety and health management systems or safe work practices, according to MOM.

The ministry has stepped up its scrutiny of workplaces to ensure that companies have, where practicable, instituted work-from-home arrangements for their staff.

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said at a press conference on March 31 that her ministry was looking to increase potential penalties - including stop-work orders and fines - for companies which avoid implementing telecommuting.

She said the rule "applies to all workplaces regardless of size, and it should be for all times, all days, and not some times, some days".

Though the Government is taking a firm stance on the matter, punishment will be meted out in a "measured approach", she added.

In the ministry's latest estimate, just 40 per cent of workers in the Central Business District currently work from home.

MOM added that inspections are also being conducted in factories, construction sites and other workplaces to ensure the implementation of measures to protect workers who are unable to work from home.

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