On 3 April 2020, the Singapore government announced the strictest measures to-date to limit the spread of COVID-19. Among these measures are the mandatory suspension of all businesses, with the exception of "Essential Services" and their related supply chains, unless these businesses can be conducted through telecommuting.
With Work-from-Home arrangements – previously seen as an employee benefit – now being imperative, it is no longer optional for companies to have a formal Work-from-Home policy addressing the HR issues arising from a short-medium term employment arrangement with unprecedented levels of flexibility:
- Working hours (does the usual nine-to-five still apply?)
- Monitoring and managing tardiness, absenteeism and low productivity (is there a way for employees to "clock-in"?)
- Monitoring employee's "footprints" and behaviour when using personal devices from home
- Managing poor performance (can assessment take place effectively without face-to-face interaction?)
- Enhanced IT and data security (can the risk of inadvertent disclosure of information in a private home setting be completely eliminated?)
- The need, and possibly, obligation to provide employees with computer and phone devices and co-pay for internet connectivity
- Helping employees with an un-conducive home environment cope
- The obligation of an employer to ensure the safety of the home as a workplace.
Some of these issues require much thinking. While employers are arguably entitled to expect the same level of employee performance and commitment wherever the work is performed, there should be a clear understanding on the dos and don'ts of working from home and mutual expectations, in order to avoid tricky issues upon termination.
Please get in touch with any one of our Bird & Bird ATMD LLP employment lawyers to discuss how your organisation can mitigate its employment legal risks through the appropriate language in your Work-from-Home policy.
This article is produced by our Singapore office, Bird & Bird ATMD LLP, and does not constitute legal advice. It is intended to provide general information only. Please note that the information in this article is accurate as at 6 April 2020. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates on any changes as soon as these are communicated to us. Please contact our lawyers if you have any specific queries.
Last reviewed: 06 April 2020