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COVID-19: Employers Who Do Not Allow Employees to Work From Home Where Possible May Face Jail and Fines

COVID-19 has been keeping us all on our toes—no one has been spared. Whether it involves constantly reviewing and updating terms, or making last minute changes to operations, companies, businesses, and governments worldwide have been scrambling to take efficient and effective efforts to combat this challenge.

Credit – MOM

An update to the Infectious Diseases Act

Singapore’s Infectious Diseases Act has, too, been constantly undergoing changes in this incredibly trying time. It is now mandatory for all employers to allow employees to work from home where reasonable, or face a possible fine of not more than S$10,000 or jail time for a maximum of six months, or even both.

In PM Lee’s latest address to the nation, most workplaces are now slated to close, and staff must work from home unless they belong to the sectors of essential services or key economic players—healthcare, transport, and key banking services having been identified as examples.

Credit – Mediacorp

Safeguards in place for those still at the workplace

Employees who still have to attend work will be subject to safe distancing measures at work, and working parents with no viable childcare solutions will also be provided assistance.

On Tuesday, 31st March, Minister of Manpower Josephine Teo also added that if companies deny employees of telecommuting where possible, they may face stop-work orders, amongst other penalties. “If the company is really not taking it seriously at all, then we have no choice and will not hesitate to issue a stop-work order,” she said. To ensure the enforcement of this arrangement, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will have more than 100 enforcement officers conducting random checks on companies.

Credit – MOM. Checks conducted by MOM inspectors.

Other precautionary measures

Other measures also include ensuring natural ventilation in the workplace “as far as reasonably practicable”, taking the temperature of anyone who enters the place of work, collecting their contact details, and denying entry to anyone who is ill or who exhibits symptoms.

It is paramount that employers, employees, and everyone in between remain cooperative and compliant of these measures that have been set in place for the good of everyone. Stay safe, and stay well.

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