1. What options do employers have and/or what are you seeing in terms of re-opening the workplace e.g. phased returns, rotating shifts, staggered working hours, etc.?
All private sector businesses and shopping malls may now resume normal operating hours. Employees who are pregnant or those with pre-existing medical conditions may be given priority to work from home if requested.
The following precautionary measures (outlined below) must be adhered to:
- 1m social distancing at all times, including in communal areas
- elevators must not exceed 30% capacity to allow for social distancing
- individuals with disabilities or those who are pregnant must be given priority for elevators
- any individuals showing symptoms, including a high temperature, should be refused entry to the premises, and any employees showing clear symptoms should be reported to the Ministry of Health
- regular sanitisation/sterilisation of equipment used by employees or customers
- personal equipment and utensils must not be shared
- face masks should be worn at all times by everyone
The above are the basic precautionary measures that must be taken. There may be additional sector-specific measures that businesses need to comply with.
2. Does an employer have to give notice to employees to return to the workplace?
We recommend that notice be given as a matter of best practice, but no minimum notice is required.
3. Is an employer obliged to consult with employees/representatives about the return to work process?
4. Are there any requirements or recommendations for employees to wear or employers to provide masks or other protective equipment in the workplace?
All employees must wear masks and hand sanitisers must be installed. The purchase of masks and sanitisation is the responsibility of the employer.
Employees working in hotels, food establishments or shopping malls must have their temperature checked and any individual showing symptoms should not be permitted to enter the premises.
The Ministry of Health has allowed the public to remove their face masks temporarily outside the house, though strictly only where they are:
- eating or drinking in indoor and outdoor settings – though the public must however maintain physical distance with others;
- driving; or
- performing outdoor physical activities (e.g. jogging).
5. When can business travel resume and what are the key considerations for employers?
Overseas business travel is not yet recommended.
6. If schools remain closed, can working parents continue to work from home?
Employees will need permission from their employer to continue working from home. This is subject to the discretion and agreement of the employer. As above, pregnant or elderly employees or those with pre-existing medical conditions should be given priority for any working from home requests.