MOM issues joint-advisory to support well-being of employees

The inter-agency advisory provides some tips for employers to better support their employees during this time of remote working.
By: | April 28, 2020

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has issued an advisory for employers in Singapore to better support the mental well-being of employees, with agencies such as Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), Institute of Mental Health (IMH), National Council of Social Service (NCSS) and Agency for Integrated Care (AIC).

The COVID-19 has brought significant disruptions to employees as they adapt to working from home as part of the circuit breaker measures to curb the outbreak. However, working remotely for a prolonged period may lead to social isolation and stress for parents who have to juggle between work and supervising their children’s home-based learning.

And the inter-agency advisory has provided some tips for employers to support their employees during this challenging time:

  • Keep employees on work suspension updated of the company’s salary and leave arrangements. Employers should adopt the practices in MOM’s advisory on salary and leave arrangements during periods of work suspension, and communicate their salary and leave policies to employees as early as possible.
  • Supervisors to check-in regularly (i.e. at least once a week) with staff. Supervisors could have informal conversations with staff, such as via video conferencing or phone messaging applications, on how they are coping, and encourage employees to support one another. There could be short sessions set aside before or after work discussions to chat on non-work topics.
  • Provide flexible work schedules for parents of young children. Supervisors could provide their staff with flexible work schedules and regular breaks even under WFH, to tend to their children’s Home-Based Learning. HR departments are encouraged to inform their employees of online parent support.
  • Provide employees access to an external counselling service. Employers could consider signing up to an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) as part of staff benefits.
  • HR departments should assure employees that counselling engagements would be kept private and confidential. SEPs may avail themselves to the counselling resources as well.
  • Employers may refer to the Mental Health Toolkit for Employers for more information and resources on raising mental health awareness, training and supporting employees with mental health conditions.

The advisory also provided tips on how employees and self-employed workers could support themselves:

  • Maintain a circle of social support. Workers are encouraged to reach out to their families and friends via video conferencing or phone messaging applications regularly.
  • Stay active and healthy
  • Have at least 7-8 hours of sleep every day
  • Eat a balanced diet to strengthen immunity
  • Continue to do moderate exercise every day
  • Take up one or two activities – e.g. reading a book, listening to music, learning a new skill online, etc.
  • Master a few simple relaxation techniques
  • Tap on grants and assistance available. For those concerned about income loss, the Government has introduced a range of support measures to help households and businesses including SEPs.
  • Find employment opportunities through SGUnited Jobs initiative. This is an extension of employment facilitation efforts under the Adapt and Grow initiative to create about 10,000 jobs over the next one year and match jobseekers and workers affected by the current COVID-19 situation.