Coronavirus & Employers’ Legal Considerations

The continued COVID-19 outbreak has caused a complete vary of novel authorized issues for employers in Singapore.

Keep-home orders

There are primarily two sorts of “stay-home orders” that are presently being applied in Singapore. They’re the:

A QO is a directive issued to quarantine or isolate a person who’s, or is suspected to be, a provider or contact of an infectious illness.

A SHN is a brand new measure that took impact on 18 February 2020, successfully changing the then prevailing depart of absence (“LOA”) measure, which was much less stringent. The SHN could be issued to people returning to Singapore from sure designated areas throughout the final 14 days from their date of return.

Obligation to pay worker salaries

QOs are served on people by the Ministry of Well being (“MOH”). The interval of absence from work necessitated by the QOs needs to be handled as paid hospitalization depart, as a part of the employer’s hospitalization depart eligibility underneath their employment contracts, collective agreements, or underneath the Employment Act. For workers who’ve used up their paid hospitalization depart, employers are urged (however not statutorily mandated) to train compassion and suppleness by granting further paid hospitalization depart.

In the course of the SHN interval, if distant working will not be potential, employers are inspired to offer further paid depart on high of the staff’ annual depart entitlements for the SHN, particularly if the explanation for the worker being on SHN is that he needed to undertake work-related journey. If that’s not possible, employers can take into account the next choices, or a mixture of the choices, for the staff on SHN:

  • Deal with workers’ SHN as paid hospitalisation depart or paid outpatient sick depart;

  • Permit workers to use for annual depart;

  • Permit workers to make use of superior paid depart or apply for no pay depart, for workers who’ve used up their depart entitlements; or

  • Different mutually agreed preparations between the employers and workers/unions.

The Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”) is offering assist to assist companies who’re affected by the SHNs within the type of a SHN Help Programme. The MOH has equally put in place a Quarantine Order Allowance Scheme. Each of those are in place to mitigate the monetary affect for employers of those that have been served QOs/SHNs, topic to the fulfilment of eligibility standards.

Obligation to offer a protected work setting

Beneath the Office Security and Well being Act, employers in Singapore have an obligation to take, so far as is fairly practicable, such measures as are mandatory to make sure the protection and well being of its workers at work. Employers even have related obligations underneath widespread legislation.

Knowledge privateness points arising from contact tracing

The Private Knowledge Safety Fee advisory offers that organisations could gather private information of tourists to premises for functions of contact tracing and different response measures within the occasion of an emergency, equivalent to throughout the outbreak of COVID-19.

Within the occasion of a COVID-19 case, related private information could be collected, used, and disclosed with out consent throughout this era to hold out contact tracing and different response measures, as that is mandatory to answer an emergency that threatens the life, well being, or security of different people.

Organisations that gather such private information should adjust to the info safety provisions of the Private Knowledge Safety Act 2012.

Temperature taking

Employers are inspired to take the temperatures of workers and guests, and document their names, NRIC/FIN/Passport numbers (for guests), and temperatures throughout this time period. It is usually permitted and advisable to observe workers and guests for different respiratory signs equivalent to coughing, runny nostril, shortness of breath, and respiratory difficulties.

Regulatory enforcement

The native regulators take contraventions of the COVID-19 measures very critically, and have been actively implementing these measures in opposition to employers and work-pass holders.

As of 24 February 2020, the MOM has punished a complete of 10 work-pass holders and 9 employers for flouting MOM’s LOA necessities.

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