SINGAPORE – Eleven companies have been fined for failing to get their employees to work from home.
They were caught during inspections by the Ministry of Labor (MOM). More than 530 workplaces were inspected between May 8 and May 21.
Violations will result in a fine of $ 1,000, with the amount increasing to $ 2,000 for repeated violations.
All employees who can work from home must do so in accordance with the latest recommendation for safe management measures dated May 14, MOM said in a statement on Monday (May 24).
Only employees who cannot work from home due to the nature of their work – for example, those who need access to equipment housed in the workplace – can continue working on site, MOM added.
All employers who work on site must report the number of workers they have in the workplace.
You are requested by the Department of Commerce and Industry to do so by May 28th and continue to update the Department if there are significant changes.
“Regardless of the number of employees reported, it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that all employees work from home when they are able,” MOM said.
MOM will continue to penalize employers if those who can work from home are found on site, even if they don’t exceed the maximum number allowed in the workplace.
Some employees told The Straits Times that their companies were resistant to the new restrictions.
A branding agency employee who wanted to be known only as Ms. Callie said her employers insisted that employees return to the office last week despite the new guidelines. The company only reversed its decision last Thursday.
She said the company originally said she and her employees must return because they are essential workers.
“My colleagues and I have been quite angry because we think it is dangerous for us to go to work every day and possibly bring the virus back to vulnerable family members – one of them has a child and another lives with their grandmother,” said the 25-year old.
Ms. Callie said her work, which is mostly research, can be done from home.
An event company employee who only wanted to be known as Ms. Ye, 40, still has to go to the office from her employers.
She is concerned about exposure to the virus, particularly because of the new strain and the higher number of cases each day.
“I would think commuting to work should be avoided at all costs for now,” she said.
“My colleagues and I can be just as effective in our work from home.”
In February around 140 companies were asked to cease operations on site after serious violations of the Covid-19 occupational health and safety regulations.
More than 280 were fined, MOM said in a Facebook post on Feb.6.
Two workplace clusters were formed in January – one at Golden Bridge Foods Manufacturing in Senoko and one at BS Industrial and Construction Supply in Kallang.
There were three Covid-19 cases associated with the Golden Bridge cluster – two employees and one of their wives – while BS Industrial employed eight people – six employees, a spouse and a roommate.
The ministry also said employers must ensure that adequate safe management measures are in place for local workers at all times.
These measures include:
a. Breathtaking start times and flexible working hours.
b. No cross-deployment between workstations or workstations.
c. No social gatherings at work.
d. The meal breaks must be taken alone and at staggered times.
e. Masks must always be worn in the workplace.
MOM added that workplace inspection would be stepped up to ensure that the latest guidelines are being followed. For the full list of guidelines, see http://go.gov.sg/smm