Knowledge Highlights 25 February 2022

On 4 February 2022, the tripartite partners, comprising the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”), National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) posted an Advisory on Business Continuity Plan (“Advisory”) on its website www.mom.gov.sg to guide employers in planning and responding to potentially high levels of workforce absences in light of rising Omicron cases.

The present more transmissible Omicron wave may result in employers facing varying degrees of manpower shortages due to employees testing positive for Covid-19. In dealing with short-term staff shortages, the Advisory provides that employers may wish to consider the following measures in reviewing their business continuity plan (“BCP”):

  1. Identify core capabilities critical to business operations, and redeploy employees fulfilling critical functions in split teams to reduce risks of disruption to operations.
  2. Train and identify other employees within the company who can be redeployed should the employees performing critical functions test positive for Covid-19.
  3. Regularly test employees who work on-site, especially those serving critical functions, to allow for early detection and isolation of positive Covid-19 cases to reduce workplace transmission among critical staff. However, note that Rostered Routine Testing (“RRT”) still applies to settings catering to vulnerable groups (i.e. healthcare sector, eldercare sector, and settings with children below five years old) and selected essential services sectors. Other sectors which are currently on RRT will no longer be required to continue testing from 18 February 2022. Employees feeling unwell should not turn up for work.
  4. Keep track of employees who have contracted Covid-19 and facilitate those who test negative to return to work earlier.
  5. Adhere to the MOM advisory on Requirements for Safe Management Measures at the workplace, including the steps to take when employees are infected with Covid-19.
  6. Develop company policy on leave and salary arrangements, in consultation with unions where applicable, should the employer decide to temporarily suspend operations due to absence of employees critical to core business functions. Employers can refer to the Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment (TAMEM) for recommended practices on leave and salary matters arising from business disruptions.
  7. Identify the triggers for the various aspects of the BCP depending on the level of staff absences for different segments of the workforce.
  8. Prepare other resources that are required to activate the BCP
  9. Prepare communications plan to consumers or service buyers to seek their understanding for delays in service delivery (if any).
  10. Refer to advisories issued by the respective sector agencies (if any) for guidance.

On 4 February 2022, the Building and Construction Authority (“BCA”) issued an Advisory on Continued Adherence to Safe Management Measures and Plans for Business Continuity on its website www.bca.gov.sg. BCA also recommends adherence to existing safe management measures and suggests additional measures for business continuity. For example, BCA recommends vaccination for the workforce, split-team arrangement and diversifying suppliers and manpower. Implementation of periodic testing for workers not under the Fast and Easy Rostered Routine Testing (“FET RRT”) may also be considered.

Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated workers residing in the dormitories will still be required to undergo their three-day FET RRT regime.

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