Coronavirus pandemic

Call for bosses to let staff keep working from home

This may protect firms and workers, ensuring business continuity if infection occurs: Wong

Mr Lawrence Wong said that it is in the interest of businesses to let their employees continue to work from home. PHOTO: ST FILE

Employers are urged to let their workers continue to work from home when Singapore reopens the economy from Friday.

The arrangement could protect both workers and businesses, as it ensures continuity even if a worker comes down with Covid-19, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said yesterday, when he announced details of phase two of the country's reopening.

Singapore is now in its third week of phase one, after the circuit breaker ended on June 1. But most activities are still not allowed in this period.

In phase two, most economic and social activities can start again, including dining in at food and beverage outlets.

Mr Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19, said at a virtual press conference that it is in the interest of businesses to let their employees continue to work from home.

This will help them avoid having to quarantine many in their workforce should an employee be infected by the coronavirus. "The entire workplace may have to be shut down," he added.

But when companies adopt split-team arrangements, with one group working from home, they may not have to close since not everyone would have been exposed to the infected person.

"It's in the interest of all businesses (to allow telecommuting)," Mr Wong said.

"They should take the safe management practices very seriously and continue to have employees work from home to the maximum extent."

This, in turn, will help reduce the number of commuters travelling to work by public transport, especially during peak periods, he added.

Mr Wong said the Government recognises that maintaining a safe distance from another person on public transport is not easy.

Hence, other measures have been implemented to continue safeguarding commuters.

These include the mandatory wearing of masks, and urging commuters not to talk to one another or on the phone during the journey.

Public transport operators have also been asked to step up their cleaning regimes, he added.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong added that precautionary measures should be viewed as a package instead of being evaluated individually.

"We have to bear in mind that even as we open up in phase two, we need to further strengthen individual responsibility and discipline, so that each of us can help keep the number of cases low (and that) despite the increase in interactions between individuals, the transmissions can still be managed because we are disciplined," the minister said at the press conference.

For example, it may not be possible to wear a mask in a restaurant or hawker centre during meals with friends.

"But it doesn't mean that we, therefore, don't have to wear masks everywhere else.

"All the more we need to strengthen the preventive measures elsewhere so that, overall, we keep the number of cases low," Mr Gan added.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2020, with the headline Call for bosses to let staff keep working from home. Subscribe