Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is taking to task employers who are flouting its guidelines on safe distancing measures to reduce the risk of local transmission of COVID-19.

In an operation commenced on 23 March 2020, MOM issued 13 stop-work orders (SWOs) and eight remedial orders (ROs) to workplaces which disregarded the need for safe distancing. The SWOs and ROs will be in force until rectifications have been made.

The inspections target workplaces where groups of workers congregate; namely:

  • Factories
  • Construction sites
  • Shipyards
  • Offices
  • Collaborative workspaces.

In addition to the inspections, MOM also observed that some companies that have implemented safe distancing measures have also adopted other precautionary measures to protect workers’ well-being, such as temperature screening.

Commissioner for Workplace Safety and Health, Silas Sng, said, “Employers must do their part to safeguard employees’ well-being by adopting safe distancing measures at workplaces during this critical period. Such measures may require businesses to adjust work processes but are necessary to suppress the spread of COVID-19 and protect our community."

MOM will continue with the inspections and will take appropriate enforcement actions against non-compliance workplaces.

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As a reminder, per MOM's latest advisory, all employers should place their employees on work from home arrangements wherever possible, especially for vulnerable employees (e.g. older employees, pregnant employees, and employees with pre-existing medical conditions).

For job roles or functions where it is not feasible for the employee to work from home, employers should:

  • Provide wider physical spacing (at least 1 metre apart) for workstations and seats in meeting rooms, pantries, rest areas and other congregation points
  • Reduce duration and proximity of physical interactions;
  • Stagger working hours;
  • Defer non-critical work events and scale down critical work events; and
  • Implement or enhance shift or split team arrangements.
  • Clearly communicate and explain the safe distancing measures put in place to employees.