}

24 August 2021

On 18 August 2021, the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”) updated its advisory on Requirements for Safe Management Measures at the Workplace (“Advisory”) to permit more employees to return to the workplace. In addition, the measures relating to work-related events and social gatherings have been revised, and temperature screening and symptom checks at workplaces will no longer be required.

The requirements set out in the Advisory are intended for general workplace settings. Specific workplaces such as construction worksites and shipyards may have to fulfil additional requirements set by the relevant agencies.

More employees allowed to return to workplace

Starting 19 August 2021, more employees are allowed to return to the workplace. Employers must ensure that no more than 50% of employees who are able to work from home are at the workplace at any point in time, regardless of their vaccination status.

The Advisory states that as workplace requirements and business models vary, employers are best placed to decide on work arrangements to ensure operational effectiveness and sustainability in the long term. Employers should provide advance notice to employees to make the necessary adjustments to return to workplaces. Employees should seek clarification from the employer if in doubt about their work arrangements.

The Advisory also strongly encourages employers to:

  • Support their employees’ mental well-being during work (whether they are working from home or at the workplace). Employers can adopt the recommendations in the Tripartite Advisory on Mental Well-being at Workplaces.
  • Make plans to implement flexible work arrangements. Employers should consider hybrid work arrangements as this will strengthen business resilience against the risk of new variants or future outbreaks.

Work-related events

Work-related events are subjected to the following requirements:

  • The number of persons per event must be capped at 50 persons to limit the risk of exposure to infection.
  • Attendees must maintain at least one metre safe distancing between individual attendees, as per the requirement at the workplace.
  • Meals should not be the main feature of the event, i.e. food or drinks should only be served if incidental to the workplace event (e.g. the meeting or conference extends over lunchtime). In addition, the food must be served individually with the participants seated while consuming. Participants should minimise the time that they are unmasked while eating.
  • Work-related events held at third-party venues will also be subject to any additional premise owners’ safe management policies, such as vaccination-differentiated safe management measures.

The Advisory was further revised on 23 August 2021 to clarify that work-related events refer to events that involve employees or stakeholders, such as conferences/seminars, corporate retreats, staff training sessions, annual general meetings and extraordinary general meetings.

  • If there are external persons (who are not employees or contractors who regularly deliver goods or services to the workplace) at the event, mask-off activities such as serving of meals or high intensity exercises should be minimised to limit cross-infection risks.
  • If such mask-off activities are unavoidable at an event where external persons are present, all attendees of the event are required to be fully vaccinated (or in lieu of that, recovered from Covid-19 or have a valid Covid-19 negative test result).

Social gatherings

The Advisory has been updated to permit social gatherings at the workplace. All social gatherings at the workplace must adhere to the prevailing gathering size limit of five persons. External persons (i.e. persons who do not normally work at that workplace) should not be included in such gatherings.

If the gatherings involve mask-off activities, such as consuming food and drinks, there must be one metre safe distance between every individual.

Temperature screening and symptom checks no longer required

From 19 August 2021, temperature screening and symptom checks are no longer required at workplaces. However, employees and visitors are still required to declare via SafeEntry or other means that they, amongst other things, do not have any fever or flu-like symptoms. Personnel who appear unwell should be refused entry to the workplace.

Reference materials

The following materials are available on the MOM website www.mom.gov.sg:

 

Further information

Allen & Gledhill has a Covid-19 Resource Centre on our website www.allenandgledhill.com that contains knowhow and materials on legal and regulatory aspects of the Covid-19 crisis.

In addition, we have a cross-disciplinary Covid-19 Legal Task Force consisting of Partners across various practice areas to provide rapid assistance. Should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at covid19taskforce@allenandgledhill.com.