Forum: Make clear to bosses guidelines for easing workplace restrictions

Office workers in masks after work hours at Raffles Place on Sept 24, 2020.
Office workers in masks after work hours at Raffles Place on Sept 24, 2020.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

While the various government agencies have set their safe limits and rules when it comes to allowing more staff to return to the workplace, the mindset of employers and senior management remains stuck in the mud (Companies plan to ease staff back into the office, Sept 25).

From what I understand, being authorised to work in the office does not mean that the employee has to work in the office. It merely means that, should there be a need, this employee whose name has been submitted - to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), for example - is cleared to return to the office for work.

However, should he or she have no pressing need to work from the office, the default should still be to work from home.

If indeed an authorised employee should still maintain working from home as the default option, then the authorities need to stress this point to all employers.

Technically, if a bank submits 100 names to MAS for clearance to go back to the workplace, the bank could still have zero staff in the office, with all 100 working from home.

The submission of the 100 names merely means that these 100 employees can choose to go back to the office. It is not an obligation to do so.

The management should not force employees - even if they are authorised - to go back to the office if their jobs can be done remotely.

If the Government wants to encourage working from home as the default option, the message should be made clear to employers and those in the management ranks of firms.

Koh Lau Hock

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2020, with the headline 'Make clear to bosses guidelines for easing workplace restrictions'. Print Edition | Subscribe