On Wednesday (29 Jan), Enterprise Singapore (ESG), the government agency advocating enterprise development advised Singapore businesses to be “prepared for different scenarios” concerning the Wuhan coronavirus, even if the current situation is relatively stable without signs of community contagion.
ESG exhorted “we recommend businesses to start developing business continuity plans if you have not done so. In conjunction with the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), the business chamber supporting the interests of the Singapore business community in the areas of trade, investment and industrial relations, ESG is also drafting a business continuity guide (BCG) to which firms can use as they develop their own BCG.
ESG will make available the guide soon on its website. The guide will function as general reference on how to plan for any respiratory-based pandemic diseases and the recommended action steps to be taken at each alert level, as approved by the Ministry of Health (MOH).
“We will continue to monitor developments and work closely with partners – businesses, the trade associations and chambers, and unions – to support businesses and workers,” ESG affirmed.
ESG also advises on employees and business travels – based on advisories by MOH and Ministry of Manpower (MOM). All non-essential travels to mainland China should be deferred especially to the epicentre of the outbreak that is Hubei province. Firms should stay abreast of the latest updates by regularly visiting MOH website “before making a considered decision on whether to proceed with business travel plans”.
Firms need to also closely monitor the health conditions of their workers who just came back from China for up to 14 days to ensure there is no infection. If employees visited China or will do so in the near future, such employees should make health and travel declarations regarding it.
Flexible working arrangement should be opted for throughout the monitoring period, such as teleconferencing, working from home and telecommuting, ESG remarked.
In cases where it is not possible for employees to work remotely, firms can opt to allow paid leave of absence even if travel was not work-related. This will allow workers to apply for no-pay leave or annual leave or treating leave of absence as sick leave.
Workers ordered to be under quarantine will be taken considered to be on paid sick leave and their absence from work be considered as paid hospitalisation leave.
Firms should remind all their employees who returned home from abroad to monitor their health closely. Any signs of illness should be followed with a doctor visit as soon as possible and informing the doctor of their travel history. They should also schedule an appointment before going to the clinic and also wear a mask.
Generally speaking, workers should adhere to general precautions like avoiding live animals, maintaining good personal hygiene and remaining vigilant.
ESG also connects firms to a list of advisories curated by the MOH for specific sector sectors like tourism and childhood education.