MOM: Companies face stop-work order for not allowing telecommuting

The Ministry of Manpower plans to have more than 100 officers check on companies who have not implemented flexible work arrangements.
By: | April 1, 2020

Singapore Manpower Minister Josephine Teo has warned companies that they may be issued a stop-work order if they do not arrange for telecommuting “wherever possible”.

In a press conference held on March 31, Teo said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is also looking at levelling fines and other penalties on companies who do make a serious effort in allowing their employees to work from home so as to curb the COVID-19 outbreak.

READ: MOM issues advisory on employees’ travel

“If the company is really not taking it seriously at all, then we have no choice and will not hesitate to issue a stop-work order,” she said.

“So there is a lot of scope for us to do more, especially the private sector firms. I want to emphasise this, employers must allow your employees to work from home, as far as reasonably practicable.

“If the nature of work can allow for work to be done from home, companies should ensure that all the employees work from home,” she added.

The MOM estimated that for companies in the Central Business District, only 40% of workers were telecommuting, based on the inspections as well as other sources of information.

And it plans to have more than 100 officers check on companies who have not implemented flexible work arrangements, a five-fold increase from the current figure.

While Teo acknowledged that certain sectors, such as manufacturing, may not necessarily be able to implement work-from-home arrangements, they should implement safe distancing measures for their staff when interacting with others, including external parties such as customers or vendors.

Companies should also introduce staggered working hours, such that staff arrive and leave work at different times, she noted.

“Don’t create a situation where everyone has to arrive at the same time, take the same lifts, and create also this kind of situation where everyone has to leave at the same time and go to the bus stops at the same time,” she advised.

MOM has already issued stop-work orders to 34 companies for not implementing safe distancing measures at their workplaces.