Coronavirus pandemic

Firms advised to check in on employees working from home to ensure well-being

Employers can check in at least once a week on their employees who are working from home due to safe distancing measures.

They should also keep those who have been suspended from work because of cost-cutting measures updated on the company's salary and leave arrangements.

These are among the ways that the Government is urging companies to consider supporting their workers' mental well-being during the coronavirus pandemic, when the economy has been hit and workers may feel insecure about their jobs.

Companies can also provide flexible work schedules for parents of young children, according to an advisory last Friday by the Manpower and Social and Family Development ministries, the Agency for Integrated Care, the Institute of Mental Health and the National Council of Social Service.

The agencies encouraged workers and the self-employed to maintain a social support circle, stay active and healthy, and tap government grants and assistance to help tide them over uncertainties.

They can also look for job opportunities through the SGUnited Jobs initiative, at sgunitedjobs.gov.sg, the agencies added.

The advisory came a day after a 46-year-old construction worker from India, who had been confirmed to have Covid-19, was found motionless at a staircase landing at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, and later died from his injuries. Police investigations into his death are being carried out.

The inter-agency advisory noted that the pandemic "has led to significant disruptions to work arrangements".

"It has hit our economy hard and brought about many uncertainties to our workers, including employees and self-employed persons," the advisory added.

It pointed out that working from home and work suspension during Covid-19 could be mental health stressors, with some employees anxious about job security.


ST ILLUSTRATION: MANNY FRANCISCO

Others such as the self-employed may worry about their work prospects and income, it added, noting that parents with young children would also have to balance work with supervising their children's home-based learning.

"Working remotely for a prolonged period may lead to social isolation," the advisory said, urging employers and workers to take practical steps to ensure their mental well-being.

A list of providers that aim to help the mental well-being of employees is on the Manpower Ministry's website.

Meanwhile, the self-employed who will not automatically receive the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (Sirs) can now submit an application to the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).

 
 
 

Those who marginally missed one of the eligibility criteria and are in difficult circumstances can also submit an application to NTUC for consideration, the organisation said last Friday.

NTUC and its freelancers and self-employed unit will be helping to administer applications and appeals for Sirs, which gives eligible people three quarterly cash payouts of $3,000 each in May, July and October.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2020, with the headline 'Firms advised to check in on employees working from home to ensure well-being'. Subscribe