Are you jealous that your friends work from home while you still have to go to the office?
Do you wish that you can wake up at 7.55am, brush your teeth and still be in time for work?
Since earlier in the Covid-19 outbreak, the government has been urging for businesses to put Business Continuity Plans (BCP) into place.
Business continuity plans sound atas but here’s what it means: Even if someone in the company gets Covid-19, the company can still function as per normal.
Some of the ways suggested includes segregating the teams (dividing them into two and ensuring no contact between them) and shifting people into working from home.
This is especially important when Covid-19 measures started getting stricter, such as doctors having to 5-day MCs for respiratory problems.
Well, if your company has not done so, they have to do it now.
If Not, They Can Be Ordered To Stop Work Or Fined
Just a few days ago, the government introduced new rules that could jail or fine normal Singaporeans who don’t do safe distancing in public.
And now, they’re looking to do the same thing to employers.
Any company who refused to allow their employees to work from home, even if their work allows it, will be guilty of an offence, according to the Ministry of Manpower.
That was what Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said at a press conference:
Employers must allow your employees to work from home as far as reasonably practicable.”
And when she says all, she means all companies in Singapore and at all times.
“This applies to all workplaces regardless of size, and it should be for all times, all days, and not some times, some days.”
Any companies who are caught flouting the rules can be issued with a Stop Work Order (SWO) or fined.
Telecommuting A Critical Part Of Safe Distancing
If you haven’t sensed it yet, safe distancing is Singapore’s number one weapon against Covid-19.
While the brainy people are still looking for a vaccine against Covid-19, the only thing Singapore can do is to slow down the rate of transmission and drag the infections out over a period of time.
And telecommuting (read: working from home), Minister Teo says, is a critical part of safe distancing.
She praised Singapore’s public sector for doing a good job so far but said the ‘private sector’ can do more.
Right now, only 40% of office workers in the Central Business District are working from home, she says.
Ownself praise ownself? Maybe but at least for this instance, you got to give it up to them.
Think about it.
Let’s say there are 20 people in an office. That’s 20 different pair of hands touching the door handle, using the same toilet basin, talking to each other in close proximity for eight hours or more; it’s going to be a nightmare if any one of them were to be infected with Covid-19.
Just look at the PCF cluster and you know what I’m talking about.
Don’t Worry, We’ll Be Fair
Don’t say we never warn you ah. MOM says they’re going to step up enforcement (read: more raids) against companies in the coming weeks.
Of course, she clarified that the ministry will be fair and take into account the company’s circumstances when dishing out penalties.
What they’re looking for is “evidence” that the company has tried their best.
Pretty ambiguous, if you ask me, but hey, maybe that’s their strategy: by not giving you a benchmark, it makes you try as hard as possible in case you’re ordered to stop work.
One thing for sure, though, they’re prepared to give companies a tough time during justification:
“But one thing is very clear – 100 per cent is better than 80, 80 is better than 60. So even if companies have implemented some telecommuting measures, we will ask the important question of whether we can do more.”
So if you’ve always wanted to work from home, now your boss has no choice but to let you do so liao.
But here’s a caveat: will asking employees to work from home really help?
After all, even if you don’t go out for work, you might just meet up with friends since you’re now more free during the day.
Well, I guess time can only tell. If there’s one thing Singaporeans are good at, it’s surprising the authorities.
You can do your part as a responsible citizen through helping out in contact tracing by downloading the TraceTogether app.