- The Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) have issued this tripartite advisory to assist employers in preparing and implementing haze-related workplace measures.
- Employers should prepare these workplace measures early so that they can be ready to react and implement these measures smoothly depending on the haze situation. It is also important that employers actively engage their union and employees on the planned measures ahead of time. Being prepared early will help mitigate the impact on businesses in the event of haze and reassure employees that appropriate workplace measures are in place.
Mitigating the Effects of Haze on Employees
- Employers are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the Guidelines for Employers on Protecting Employees from the Effects of Haze issued by MOM. Depending on the air quality, prolonged1 or strenuous2 outdoor work should be reduced, minimised or avoided. This could be done through redeployment of the affected workers. Risk assessments should be conducted and risk mitigating measures adopted.
Flexible Work and Leave Arrangements during Haze
- Some employees (especially those who are older, pregnant or have respiratory illnesses) may be unable to report for work due to health reasons. Other employees may need to take care of their family members, e.g. if their family member is sick or if there is a need for alternative childcare arrangements should schools or childcare facilities close as a result of the haze situation. In such situations, employers may consider adopting the following measures:
Suspension of Business Operations During Haze
- Where possible, implement flexible work arrangements (FWAs) to meet organisational and employees’ personal needs. Employers and employees should discuss the appropriate FWAs to be adopted; who are eligible for these FWAs; and any corresponding leave arrangements.
- Where such arrangements are not feasible, request the employees to use their leave entitlements such as annual, sick or childcare leave. If employees have exhausted their leave entitlements, employers are encouraged to be flexible in granting paid time off to their employees or allowing them to use advance consumption of paid leave or other leave arrangements as far as possible.
- Employers will need to make their own risk assessment to decide if they wish to continue with their business operations as the working conditions will differ across different workplaces. Employers who wish to suspend business operations should take note of the following:
- If the suspension is on a short-term and ad-hoc basis, employers should bear the costs of doing so and not deduct from the pay or leave entitlements of their affected employees.
- If the suspension of business operations is for longer periods, employers should discuss with their union and employees on the appropriate flexible work, leave and salary arrangements to be put in place.
- Employers are strongly encouraged to put in place in advance internal company grievance handling procedures to manage any haze-related employment disputes.
Minimising Disruption to Work Due to Haze
- Employers should put in place Business Continuity Plans (BCP)3 to help minimise work disruptions. Employers are also encouraged to brief employees on the BCP and on the employees’ roles and responsibilities. Employers could plan and conduct BCP exercises to maintain and increase the readiness of the organisation and employees. To help employers defray the cost of BCP adoption, financial assistance is available through SPRING Singapore’s Capability Development Grant (CDG)4.
For queries on this advisory or advice on haze-related employment issues, please contact:
Ministry of Manpower (MOM)
MOM Contact Centre, Tel: (65) 6438 5122
Online Enquiry via this link (www.mom.gov.sg/feedback)
National Trades Union Congress (NTUC)
Industrial Relations Department, Tel: (65) 6213 8240
Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF)
Duty Consultant, Tel: (65) 6290 7692
1 Prolonged = continuous exposure for several hours.
2 Strenuous = involving a lot of energy or effort.
3 BCP refers to planning and related activities that improve the resilience and readiness of an organisation in the face of crises. BCP aims to ensure that an organisation's critical business functions and activities will continue to operate despite serious incidents or disasters that might otherwise have interrupted them, and help restore these functions and activities to an operational state within a reasonably short period.
4 The CDG is a financial assistance programme aimed at helping Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) defray up to 70% of qualifying project costs, relating to consultancy, manpower, training, certification, upgrading productivity and developing business capabilities for process improvement, product development and market access. More info.