More Employees to Return to the Workplace, Trial Travel Passes for Senior Staff

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More employees will be allowed to return to their offices as the number of community cases of COVID-19 remains low. On 23 September, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that these new regulations will take place on 28 September, subject to conditions. 

Work from home still in effect

Among employees who are able to work from home, no more than half should return to the workplace at any point in time. Additionally, employees should continue working from home for at least half their working time. MOH also emphasised that “working from home remains the default mode of working.” 

MOH stated that these updated measures were implemented in order to balance the concerns of employers and employees about working from home — such as productivity, workplace relations and work-life balance. 

Creating safe workplaces 

In order for these new measures to be implemented, MOH urged employers to stagger reporting times and implement flexible work schedules to avoid travelling during peak hours. “It doesn’t have to be [an] ‘either-or’ [arrangement] but it can be a combination of both,” explained Mr Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force. Employees are also expected to continue maintaining a safe distance of one-metre in shared areas, and demarcate safe physical distances.

Work-related events get the green light

Events such as conferences, seminars, and annual general meetings held within the office space will also be allowed to resume, with a maximum of 50 people in attendance. The running of events at an external venue will be up for consideration next, while large work-related social gatherings such as dinner-and-dance remain prohibited.

New travel for work trial in place

For senior staff members who are required to travel, a trial business travel pass will be made available, albeit strictly for those with regional or international responsibilities. Travelers on this pass will have the option of doing a virus test instead of a stay-home notice upon their return to Singapore, and self-isolate until the test results are out. 

On a trajectory to Phase 3

Lawrence Wong reminded that compliance to the measures in place will determine the further opening of Singapore’s economy and society, alongside the careful control of the COVID infection. He added that the government is working on a road map to Phase 3 — to be released in the coming weeks.

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