Career and Enterprising

10 things you need to know about heading back to the office from Sep 28

Back to the workplace from Sep 28 Image Credits: AsiaOne

Are you already in the office to start the new week? Or have received a work schedule from your employer regarding the days you should physically report for work? While some can’t wait to get their office routine back, many are sitting on the fence after being used to working from home amid the pandemic.

Here are 10 things you need to know if you’re called back to the office from Sep 28.

#1: Employer has the right to ask you back

Even if your job can be done from home, your employer has the right to ask you to return back to the office. However, you should be allowed to work from home for at least half of your working time.

In addition to that, your employer must ensure that not more than 50% of the people who can work from home are in the office at any one time.

Those who are working part-time will keep to a pro-rated system. For example, if you normally work four days a week, you should only be in the office 2 days a week.

#2: Cannot return to the office full-time on the basis of the home being unconducive for work

As we’ve mentioned earlier, if your job can be completed from home, you should be doing so at least for half your working time. You should not return to the office full-time just because home is an unconducive work environment to get your job done.

This is because employers will need to explain the business or operational reasons if their staff are not working from home for the period as advised by the authorities.

#3: Leave days count towards the total number of days you spend working from home

Image Credits: FlexJobs

This may be a little tricky to understand so here’s an example to aid us in explaining:

Based on a five-day workweek, you will be allowed to go back to the office for 2.5 days a week. But should you decide to take two days off, your boss can still require you to go back to the office for 2.5 days. With that said, you will spend the remaining 0.5-day working from home.

#4: External meetings and events count towards the number of days you spend in the office

Employees who need to attend to work meetings and events outside the office can count their time as time spent in the workplace.

#5: You may go back to the office for regular meetings

While meetings should be conducted virtually as far as possible amid the pandemic, your boss may ask you to head back to the office for meetings.

Employers can consider a flexible work arrangement for staff to go back to the office only for meetings and work from home for the rest of the day.

#6: Inform your employer if you have a medical condition that has weakened your immune system

Image Credits: Freepik

You should inform your employer if you’re undergoing a chronic medical condition with a compromised immune system. Your employer should make arrangements to allow you to work from home and provide the necessary IT equipment needed.  If that can’t be done, a temporary redeployment to another role within the company might do the trick.

However, if the above-mentioned arrangements can’t be made, your employer can still ask you to return to the office. But there must be at least 1m of space set between you and your colleagues.

#7: Avoid interacting with colleagues as usual

Heading back to the office doesn’t mean that interaction is back to normal. Keep to these rules at the workplace:

  • Wear a mask at all times, unless impossible due to the nature of your work or the work environment.
  • Be 1m apart from your colleagues in the office, including at your workstation and during meetings.
  • Do not gather in groups larger than the prevailing permitted group size for social gatherings. This includes meal times or smoke breaks.
#8: Only work-related events of up to 50 people can take place in the office

Work-related events include:

  • Meetings
  • Training sessions
  • Townhalls
  • Corporate retreats
  • Tender briefings to vendors and business conferences
  • Onboarding or retrenchment exercises

Celebrations, parties, dinner and dance events, team bonding activities or gala dinners are not considered work-related events under the latest update by the authorities.

Also, food and drinks should not be served at such events where possible. But if absolutely necessary, individuals must be seated and served, with meal durations kept short.

#9: Employers should implement flexible workplace arrangements
singapore office with safe distancing in place

Image Credits: The Straits Times

Employers should embrace flexible workplace arrangements. For example, stagger start times to avoid crowding. There can also be a shift or split team operations to minimize interactions between different teams. Employees may also consider asking their staff to work from home in the morning but return to the office after lunchtime.

#10: Can I report my employer if rules are not kept to?

Yes, you should do so via the SnapSAFE app. Download the app via the App Store or the Google Play Store.


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