Coronavirus: Singapore

Working from home to stay the default; employers urged to allow flexibility

Working from home will remain the default over the coming weeks and employers should continue to exercise flexibility in their employees' work arrangements as Singapore emerges from this period of heightened alert, Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong said yesterday.

Mr Gan, who was speaking at the Covid-19 multi-ministry task force virtual news conference, appealed to employers to introduce more flexibility in work arrangements.

"Even if we come out of work from home as a default and allow more workers to go back to the workplace, we want to continue to encourage employers to allow their workers flexibility," he said.

"Where possible, if they can still work from home, let them continue to work from home because (while) it is important for face-to-face interaction in the workplaces in many situations, it is also important for us to continue to minimise (interactions) in the community."

Responding to a question on the circumstances needed for the work-from-home advisory to be changed, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said that activities will be resumed progressively so as to avoid the risk of new cases exploding into large clusters, which will create more difficulties down the road.

Citing the experience from last year, he said: "When we emerged out of the circuit breaker last year, we did it gradually, in a controlled manner... We started relaxing the work-from-home requirement from the default setting to 50 per cent, and so on."

Mr Wong, who co-chairs the Covid-19 multi-ministry task force with Mr Gan and Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, added that it would monitor the situation in the coming weeks. If all remains stable, with a low number of community cases, higher vaccination rates and a good testing regime, then the Government will have the confidence to start adjusting the work-from-home parameter.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2021, with the headline 'Working from home to stay the default; employers urged to allow flexibility'. Subscribe