Singapore

Businesses welcome changes to snap work-from-home rules

Revised rules would reduce disruption to work operations should there be Covid-19 cases among staff

Businesses welcomed changes to the snap work-from-home (WFH) regime, noting that the revised rules would reduce disruption to work operations should there be Covid-19 cases among employees.

This was after the Ministry of Manpower announced the changes on Monday.

From today, such a regime will be implemented only if three or more employees working in the same premises test positive for Covid-19 within a period of seven consecutive days. The duration of enforced WFH - for workers able to work from home - will be cut to 10 days from the previous 14 days.

Affected workers may return to the office for ad hoc reasons if they test negative using an antigen rapid test (ART). The test should be completed before they return and not done more than 24 hours before the end of their return to the workplace.

Previously, a single infection at the workplace meant employers had to require all staff able to work from home to do so for 14 days.

Prudential Singapore's head of corporate affairs Tan Ping Ping welcomed the revised rules, despite its employees having the necessary tools to transition to snap WFH arrangements if required.

On average, fewer than 10 per cent of the insurance firm's employees work on-site across its three corporate offices daily, she said.

"As an added precaution, front-line employees such as our receptionists and customer service centre employees do a weekly self-test. Antigen rapid test kits are available for employees who wish to do self-testing for peace of mind."

Mr Blair Crichton, co-founder of plant-based food company Karana, said the revised snap WFH regulations are "a step in the right direction" and any relaxation of the regulations is appreciated.

This is especially so as the firm has a lean team in Singapore working on research and development and marketing, and its technical staff need to use laboratory equipment on-site, he added.

Ms Bessie Kum, human resources director for Asia-Pacific and Japan at technology firm Acronis, said the updated policy reflects Singapore's determination and overall strategy to live with the virus.

"The latest updates still provide security to local companies and employees but also clearly show that potential business interruptions will be minimised," she said.

Acronis, which has more than 200 employees here, currently allows only vaccinated staff to go to the office and has fewer than 20 per cent on-site daily on average.

A spokesman for DHL said employees whose roles can be performed remotely have been working from home since last year.

Since a cluster at the DHL Supply Chain Advanced Regional Centre was announced on Sept 12, all employees on-site have been undergoing daily ART testing. The company has also increased the frequency of deep cleaning at facilities and hired additional safety ambassadors to reinforce safe distancing measures on-site.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING: YEO SHU HUI

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