Singapore streamlines workplace safety rules — here's what employers need to know

Rules on remote work, masks, physical distance, and more have been simplified

Singapore streamlines workplace safety rules — here's what employers need to know

Singapore's Multi-Ministry Task Force will roll out its streamlined Safe Management Measures that also applies for workplaces starting Tuesday in a bid to reduce confusion after two years of accumulated rules against COVID-19.

"This is to make things simpler to understand and remember, so that everyone can better do their part," said the task force in its announcement. "It also prepares us for further easing of measures and the safe resumption of normal activities, when conditions are right and the healthcare workload has eased, which we expect in the coming weeks."

Under the updated Safe Management Measures, employers should be guided on the following:

Remote work

The policy on remote work continues for workplaces where up to 50% of employees are allowed to undertake work from home, according to the announcement.

"We will maintain the current posture of allowing up to 50% of employees who can work from home to return to the office to limit social interactions," it said.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in its updated guidance said that those who are reporting onsite are encouraged to undergo weekly self-test using an Antigen Rapid Test.

"As workplace requirements and business models vary, employers are best placed to decide on work arrangements to ensure operational effectiveness and sustainability in the long run," MOM also said.

Masks and physical distance

Mask-wearing will continue to be required "as a default," according to the task force, but there will be slight easing on physical distancing policies based on the new guidelines.

A one-metre safe distance between each group of five people will be required on mask-off settings, such as staff canteens and pantries. On the other hand, the one-metre safe distance will no longer be required in mask-on areas, such as meetings rooms and workstations.

Read more: Singapore extends $500-million aid to aviation industry

Cross-deployment

The task force said that it will also lift restrictions on cross-deployment of employees across workplaces as economic activities are revived.

"Employers may continue to do so for business continuity reasons," it later clarified.

Social gatherings, work-related events

The rules on social gatherings for workplaces have been aligned with those on other social settings. This means that gatherings with up to five persons are permitted at the workplace as long as "general group size and masking rules are adhered to."

For work-related events, here are the following rules as laid out by MOM:

  • No cap on number of participants, but events with more than 1,000 attendees must only fill the event venue to 50% capacity
  • Zoning is not required
  • Food and beverages are only allowed for events with 50 or fewer attendees
  • All attendees must be fully vaccinated, recovered from COVID-19 in the past 180 days, or medically ineligible for vaccination
  • For events with more than 50 attendees, the event organiser must notify the authorities at least 5 days before the event
  • Social activities such as Dinner & Dance continue to be disallowed

The streamlined restrictions arrive as the government sees gradual decline on daily local case numbers over the past week. The seven-day moving average have dropped, as well as the number of cases hospitalised, according to the task force.

Despite the improving situation, the government cautioned the public against complacency and underscored the importance of being responsible and following the Safe Management Measures. It also told the public to refrain from going to the Emergency Departments unless actual medical emergencies to ensure that hospital resources are preserved to those who need acute care.

"Our healthcare workers continue to face a heavy workload. Hence, we urge everyone to continue exercising personal responsibility," it said.

The task force said it is still monitoring the situation of the pandemic in Singapore and will "ease measures to allow more activities to resume."

"Step by step, we will transition to resilience and emerge stronger from this crisis," it stated.

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