HR leaders are advised to review their business continuity plans immediately
Employers and employees in Singapore have been urged to work together amid a sharp rise of COVID-19 cases due to the spread of the Omicron variant in the country. In an advisory from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), employers are warned on the possibility of manpower shortage and business disruptions especially when an outbreak in the workplace emerges.
"Employees should support their employers in these difficult times to ensure business continuity," said MOM in the advisory. "Employers should likewise show care and concern for the health and safety of their employees, recognise their sacrifices and contributions, and reward them accordingly.”
According to the ministry, employers should start reviewing their business continuity plans (BCP) to dampen transmission and minimise business disruptions due to COVID-19. BCPs allow businesses to "resume, recover and restore business operations," according to MOM, and recently it saw the inclusion of split teams and work-from-home arrangements following the spread of the pandemic.
With the threat of staff shortages and short-term absences in workplaces due to the transmission of the Omicron variant, employers are urged to review their BCPs with the following measures considered:
- Identify core capabilities critical to business operations. Employees fulfilling critical functions can be deployed in split teams to reduce risks of disruption to operations.
- Train and identify other employees within the company who can be redeployed should the employees performing critical functions test positive for COVID-19.
- Consider regular testing of employees who work on-site, especially those serving critical functions, to allow for early detection and isolation of positive COVID-19 cases to reduce workplace transmission among critical staff. Employees should also exercise self-responsibility and should not turn up for work when they are feeling unwell.
- Maintain regular contact with employees who have contracted COVID-19 to keep track of their recovery and to facilitate those who test negative to return to work earlier.
- Adhere to the Advisory on Requirements for Safe Management Measures at the workplace, including the steps to take when employees are infected with COVID-19.
- Develop company policy on leave and salary arrangements, such as additional paid leave or consumption of paid sick leave or annual leave, in consultation with unions where applicable, should the employer decide to temporarily suspend operations due to absence of employees critical to core business functions.
- Identify the triggers for the various aspects of the BCP depending on the level of staff absences for different segments of the workforce.
- Prepare other resources that are required to activate the BCP, such as work-from-home equipment and channels to employ temporary help.
- Prepare communications plan to consumers or service buyers to seek their understanding for delays in service delivery (if any).
- Take guidance from advisories issued by the respective sector agencies (if any).
The tripartite partners also encouraged the public to show their support to employees and employers as they deliver essential goods and services.
"Let us be prepared to exercise patience if there is unavoidable delay, and also encourage them in their efforts," said MOM.