After a strict inspection of almost 200 workplaces since businesses resumed operations in the island nation of Singapore, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has asked three workplaces to discontinue operations. The order was given because these workplaces had failed to implement safe management measures (SMM), as shared by MOM early last month. The workplaces in question were found to be lacking in terms of safety measures too.
A total of 14 composition fines were also issued to employers for not complying with SMM or for breaking rules over the two-day period following the conclusion of the circuit breaker period on June 1.
As on June 3, the Ministry had inspected more than 200 workplaces in the first phase following the circuit breaker period.
Silas Sng, divisional director, occupational safety and health, MOM, said that even though it is natural for certain employers to be in a hurry to get their staff back to work in the offices after a long period of near lockdown, they all have to understand that work from home should be preferred, wherever possible.
The Ministry revealed that during inspection, the employers were given a chance to explain themselves and that action will be taken against them only if they are unable to give proper justification for their non-compliance to SMM.
If employers are unable to provide a justification for asking their employees to return to the workplace, even when the workers are able to and willing to continue with the work-from-home arrangement, enforcement actions will be taken.
According to MOM guidelines, employees should be allowed the choice to work from home in the first place. Only if there is no alternative should they be allowed to return to the workplace, such as in cases where use of specialised equipment is needed or fulfilling of legal requirements is necessary.
Some employees have reportedly complained that they were unnecessarily ordered to return to the workplace.