ISCA COVID-19 Series - FAQs

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ISCA-SAC Advisory for Accounting Practices on Updated Safe Management Measures 

The Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced on 24 August 2022 the further easing of our COVID-19 Safe Management Measures (SMM).  The tripartite partners, comprising of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), and National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), have updated the workplace safe management measures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission at the workplace.

Easing of Safe Management Measures 

The following changes took effect on 29 August 2022 as announced by the Multi-Ministry Taskforce.

  • Mask wearing is optional for all workplaces except for healthcare facilities, residential care homes and public transport. For employees (and contractors and vendors) who are physically onsite at the workplace in these settings[1], mask wearing is required indoors except when (i) persons are not interacting with others and (ii) not in customer-facing areas where interaction is likely to happen.  Everyone is advised to exercise social responsibility by masking up when in crowded places or when in contact with vulnerable groups.

[1]  Mask wearing is optional for all workplaces except for healthcare facilities, residential care homes and public transport. For employees (and contractors and vendors) who are physically onsite at the workplace, mask wearing is required indoors except when (i) persons are not interacting with others and (ii) not in customer-facing areas where interaction is likely to happen.  While this concession will provide some flexibility for employees as more return to the workplace, everyone is advised to exercise social responsibility and maintain an appropriate safe distance from others while unmasked.

Updated 5 September 2022

1. Taking care of workers 

In line with the easing of Vaccination-Differentiated SMMs (VDS), Workforce Vaccination Measures (WVMs) has also been lifted with effect from 26 April 2022. Nevertheless, given that the pandemic is not over, tripartite partners have agreed that employers have the flexibility to continue implementing vaccination-related instructions for employees for workplace health and safety and business continuity reasons, and in accordance with employment law.

      • Employees returning to the workplace are encouraged to self-test when they feel unwell or had recent contact with an infected person
      • Employers are encouraged to continue to offer flexible work arrangements (FWAs) such as telecommuting and staggered work hours. FWAs have strengthened the resilience of workplaces during the pandemic, support employees’ work-life harmony and contribute to a more engaged and productive workforce, as well as better talent attraction and retention
      • Employers are encouraged to support their employees’ mental well-being during work (whether it is working from home or at the workplace). Employers can adopt the recommendations in the Tripartite Advisory on mental well-being at workplaces

       

      2. Working at the workplace

      Employers should ensure the following precautions are in place for employees (as well as contractors and vendors) at the workplace:

      • Work processes should be reviewed and technology adopted to support employees to work from home. Accounting practices that require more information and support in this area can visit the SMP Centre.  For more information on solutions subsidized under government funding schemes, refer to the GoBusiness Gov Assist website;
      • Mask wearing is optional for all workplaces except for healthcare facilities, residential care homes and public transport. For employees (and contractors and vendors) who are physically onsite at the workplace in these settings1, mask wearing is required indoors except when (i) persons are not interacting with others and (ii) not in customer-facing areas where interaction is likely to happen. Everyone is advised to exercise social responsibility by masking up when in crowded places or when in contact with vulnerable groups.  

      For more information, please see Ministry of Manpower’s website on updated Requirements for Safe Management Measures (SMM) at the Workplace.

       

      3. Mandatory Safe Management Measures that should continue to be implemented

      All accounting practices need to continue to comply with the Safe Management Measures which are mandatory. Some of these measures are: 

      • Clean common spaces and touchpoints regularly in accordance with NEA’s advisory
      • Increase ventilation where possible, in accordance with advisories by NEA or BCA. You may also refer to WSH Council’s video on improving workplace ventilation. Employers can increase the mechanical airflow, open windows or doors to facilitate higher exchange of air. Employers are also encouraged to measure their carbon dioxide CO2 levels within the premises to keep within NEA’s guidelines of 800 parts per million (ppm). 
        • Implement a detailed monitoring plan to ensure compliance with the measures, and appoint a Safe Management Officer to assist in the implementation, coordination and monitoring of the Safe Management Measures;
          • Communicate and explain measures to employees and reduce misunderstanding especially in measures related to working from home
          • Signs should be put up to remind employees and visitors to observe all measures in place
        • Set in place MOH’s Health Protocols to manage potential cases and confirmed infected cases;
          • Protocol 1 – You are unwell: visit a doctor via private transport or request for a Telemedicine (TM) consult via a TM provider to assess and advise on your next steps
          • Protocol 2 – You are well but tested positive; or have been assessed by a doctor to have a mild condition: self-isolate at home for 72 hours and repeat the ART after. End isolation when ART result is negative
          • Protocol 3 – You are identified by MOH as a close contact of an infected person: take an ART self-test within 24 hours and over the next 5 days, during which you can leave your house, including for work, after testing negative via an ART self-test on the given day. No further test needed if tested negative on Day 5
        • Workers should inform their employers if they are unwell, tested positive for COVID-19, or identified by MOH as a close contact of an infected person. Workers should follow MOH’s Health Protocol on isolation periods;
        • Employers are encouraged to take the following steps to reduce risk of workplace transmission upon notification that workers had been infected:
          • Establish if the colleagues had interacted with the infected worker recently
          • Conduct ART on colleagues who had interacted with the infected worker and follow Health Protocols. There is no need to send them home if they are tested negative
          • Clean the area where the infected worker was working in accordance with NEA’s advisory.  There is no need to conduct deep cleaning of the premises
          • Review the implementation of Safe Management Measures
        • Employers should also refer to the Advisory on work and leave arrangements for employees who test positive for COVID-19 but are mildly symptomatic or physically well.

        As we transition to an endemic situation, employers should retain and regularly review business continuity plans to keep their workplace resilient against the risk of new variants or future outbreaks. For more information on the Safe Management Measures, accounting practices may also refer to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM)’s website and MOM’s checklist.

        Working at Clients’ Premises

        Accounting Practices should continue to ensure the following are in place: 

        • Understand and ensure that the client has put in place Safe Management Measures;
        • Always require employees who are physically onsite at the client’s premises in healthcare facilities, residential care homes and public transport settings [1] to wear masks indoors except when (i) not interacting in person with another individual present in that area and (ii) not in customer-facing areas where interaction is likely to happen;
        • Ensure employees comply with the Safe Management Measures that are in place at the client’s premises;
        • Do not allow employees who are unwell to visit the client’s premises;

          For more information, accounting practices may refer to the frequently asked questions on Safe Management Measures at the workplace.

          Compliance and Penalties 

          Checks will be conducted, and businesses that do not fulfil the requirements will have their operations suspended. MOM and sector agencies will take calibrated enforcement actions based on the areas of non-compliance found.

          Breaches and poor practices can be reported to MOM.  

          We encourage employers and individuals to remain socially responsible and vigilant as we transition to living with COVID-19 to keep the workplace resilient against the risk of new variants or future outbreaks. 

          Issued 4 May 2022

           

          The Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced on 22 April 2022 the further easing of our COVID-19 Safe Management Measures (SMM).  The tripartite partners, comprising of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), and National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), have updated the workplace safe management measures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission at the workplace.

          Easing of Safe Management Measures 

          The following changes took effect on 26 April 2022 as announced by the Multi-Ministry Taskforce.

          • All employees may now return to the workplace
          • For employees (and contractors and vendors) who are physically onsite at the workplace, mask wearing is required indoors except when (i) persons are not interacting with others and (ii) not in customer-facing areas where interaction is likely to happen.[1] While this concession will provide some flexibility for employees as more return to the workplace, everyone is advised to exercise social responsibility and maintain an appropriate safe distance from others while unmasked.
          • There will no longer be a group size limit. Individuals will not be required to keep to a group of 10 persons for mask-off activities
          • Safe distancing will no longer be required between individuals or between groups
          • Removal of the 75% capacity limit for events with more than 1,000 attendees

          [1] The requirement for masks to be worn can be waived when carrying out, in the course of employment, an activity that requires that no mask may be worn, or that it must be removed in order that other equipment may be worn or used, to carry out that activity.

          FAQ 1 – What are the updated requirements for safe management measures?

           

          1. Taking care of workers 

          In line with the easing of Vaccination-Differentiated SMMs (VDS), Workforce Vaccination Measures (WVMs) has also been lifted with effect from 26 April 2022. Nevertheless, given that the pandemic is not over, tripartite partners have agreed that employers have the flexibility to continue implementing vaccination-related instructions for employees for workplace health and safety and business continuity reasons, and in accordance with employment law.

          • Employers and employees can refer to the Updated Advisory on COVID-19 Vaccination at the Workplace for more details on the arrangements.
          • All employees can now return to the workplace
          • Employees returning to the workplace are encouraged to self-test when they feel unwell or had recent contact with an infected person
          • Employers are encouraged to continue to offer flexible work arrangements (FWAs) such as telecommuting and staggered work hours. FWAs have strengthened the resilience of workplaces during the pandemic, support employees’ work-life harmony and contribute to a more engaged and productive workforce, as well as better talent attraction and retention
          • Employers are encouraged to support their employees’ mental well-being during work (whether it is working from home or at the workplace). Employers can adopt the recommendations in the Tripartite Advisory on mental well-being at workplaces

           

          2. Working at the workplace

          Employers should ensure the following precautions are in place for employees (as well as contractors and vendors) at the workplace:

          • Work processes should be reviewed and technology adopted to support employees to work from home. Accounting practices that require more information and support in this area can visit the SMP Centre.  For more information on solutions subsidized under government funding schemes, refer to the GoBusiness Gov Assist website;
          • For employees (and contractors and vendors) who are physically onsite at the workplace, mask wearing is required indoors except when (i) persons are not interacting with others and (ii) not in customer-facing areas where interaction is likely to happen. [1] While this concession will provide some flexibility for employees as more return to the workplace, everyone is advised to exercise social responsibility and maintain an appropriate safe distance from others while unmasked.

          For more information, please see Ministry of Manpower’s website on updated Requirements for Safe Management Measures (SMM) at the Workplace.


          [1] The requirement for masks to be worn can be waived when carrying out, in the course of employment, an activity that requires that no mask may be worn, or that it must be removed in order that other equipment may be worn or used, to carry out that activity.

          3. Mandatory Safe Management Measures that should continue to be implemented

          All accounting practices need to continue to comply with the Safe Management Measures which are mandatory. Some of these measures are: 

          • Clean common spaces and touchpoints regularly in accordance with NEA’s advisory;
          • Increase ventilation where possible, in accordance with advisories by NEA or BCA. You may also refer to WSH Council’s video on improving workplace ventilation. Employers can increase the mechanical airflow, open windows or doors to facilitate higher exchange of air. Employers are also encouraged to measure their carbon dioxide CO2 levels within the premises to keep within NEA’s guidelines of 800 parts per million (ppm). 

          [2] The requirement for masks to be worn can be waived when carrying out, in the course of employment, an activity that requires that no mask may be worn, or that it must be removed in order that other equipment may be worn or used, to carry out that activity.

             
          • Implement a detailed monitoring plan to ensure compliance with the measures, and appoint a Safe Management Officer to assist in the implementation, coordination and monitoring of the Safe Management Measures;
            • Communicate and explain measures to employees and reduce misunderstanding especially in measures related to working from home
            • Signs should be put up to remind employees and visitors to observe all measures in place
          • Set in place MOH’s Health Protocols to manage potential cases and confirmed infected cases;
            • Protocol 1 – You are unwell: visit a doctor via private transport or request for a Telemedicine (TM) consult via a TM provider to assess and advise on your next steps
            • Protocol 2 – You are well but tested positive; or have been assessed by a doctor to have a mild condition: self-isolate at home for 72 hours and repeat the ART after. End isolation when ART result is negative
            • Protocol 3 – You are identified by MOH as a close contact of an infected person: take an ART self-test within 24 hours and over the next 5 days, during which you can leave your house, including for work, after testing negative via an ART self-test on the given day. No further test needed if tested negative on Day 5
          • Workers should inform their employers if they are unwell, tested positive for COVID-19, or identified by MOH as a close contact of an infected person. Workers should follow MOH’s Health Protocol on isolation periods;
          • Employers are encouraged to take the following steps to reduce risk of workplace transmission upon notification that workers had been infected:
            • Establish if the colleagues had interacted with the infected worker recently
            • Conduct ART on colleagues who had interacted with the infected worker and follow Health Protocols. There is no need to send them home if they are tested negative
            • Clean the area where the infected worker was working in accordance with NEA’s advisory. There is no need to conduct deep cleaning of the premises
            • Review the implementation of Safe Management Measures
          • Employers should also refer to the Advisory on work and leave arrangements for employees who test positive for COVID-19 but are mildly symptomatic or physically well.

          As we transition to an endemic situation, employers should retain and regularly review business continuity plans to keep their workplace resilient against the risk of new variants or future outbreaks. For more information on the Safe Management Measures, accounting practices may also refer to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM)’s website and MOM’s checklist.

          [1] The requirement for masks to be worn can be waived when carrying out, in the course of employment, an activity that requires that no mask may be worn, or that it must be removed in order that other equipment may be worn or used, to carry out that activity.

          FAQ 2 – Can my employees go to our clients’ premises to perform work?

          Accounting practices are highly encouraged to perform work at clients’ premises only if work procedures cannot be performed from home / work premises and if such work require employees to be at client’s premises, e.g. observation of physical inventory count, fixed asset sighting and sighting of original documents.

          Accounting Practices should continue to ensure the following are in place: 

          • Understand and ensure that the client has put in place Safe Management Measures;
          • Always require employees who are physically onsite at the client’s premises to wear masks at clients’ premises 4 except when (i) not interacting in person with another individual present in that area and (ii) not in customer-facing areas where interaction is likely to happen1;
          • Ensure employees comply with the Safe Management Measures that are in place at the client’s premises;
          • Do not allow employees who are unwell to visit the client’s premises;
             

          Checks will be conducted, and businesses that do not fulfil the requirements will have their operations suspended. MOM and sector agencies will take calibrated enforcement actions based on the areas of non-compliance found.

          Breaches and poor practices can be reported to MOM.  

          We encourage employers and individuals to remain socially responsible and vigilant as we transition to living with COVID-19 to keep the workplace resilient against the risk of new variants or future outbreaks. 

          FAQ 3 – What are the past requirements that have been lifted?

          Some SMM requirements have been progressively lifted. To facilitate implementation of the prevailing SMM requirements, this section lists down the past requirements that employers no longer need to implement:

          • Demarcation of safe distancing (e.g. in meeting rooms) 
          • Restriction on cross-deployment across workplaces
          • Staggering of start times and break times
          • Temperature-taking at the workplace
          • Limiting workplace access to essential employees and authorised visitors
          • Evacuation plan for suspected COVID-19 cases
          • Deep cleaning for positive COVID-19 cases at the workplace
          • Requirements for work-related events with more than 50 attendees to implement zoning, to be static, and to notify the authorities beforehand
          • Safe distancing of 1m for mask-off settings
          • Capacity limit for mask-off events
          • Use of TraceTogether-only SafeEntry, or take other reasonably practicable measures, to record the entry of all personnel (including employees and visitors entering the workplace)
          • Workforce Vaccination Measures

          For more information, accounting practices may refer to the frequently asked questions on Safe Management Measures at the workplace.

          Issued 1 Apr 2022

          The Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced on 24 March 2022 the easing of our COVID-19 Safe Management Measures (SMM) rules.  The tripartite partners, comprising of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), and National Trade Union Congress (NTUC), have updated the workplace safe management measures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission at the workplace.

          Easing of Safe Management Measures 

          The following changes take effect on 29 March 2022 as announced by the Multi-Ministry Taskforce.

          • Up to 75% of employees who are able to work from home can be at the workplace at any point in time
          • Food and beverages can be served at all work-related events, including those with more than 50 attendees, and event organisers need not notify the authorities about the event
          • Social gatherings at the workplace will be permitted in groups of up to 10. There must be 1 metre safe distance between each group. The maximum group size does not apply if all members of the group are wearing masks
          • Mask-wearing will continue to be required for indoor settings, but will be optional in outdoor settings

          FAQ 1 – What are the updated requirements for safe management measures?

          1. Taking care of workers 

          Employers must implement Workforce Vaccination Measures (WVM) to keep their workforce safe and minimise strain on Singapore’s healthcare capacity.    

          • Up to 75% of employees who are able to work from home can be at the workplace at any point in time. For example, a company with 100 employees who can work from home can have up to 75 of these employees at the workplace at any point in time
          • Those who report to work onsite are encouraged to self-test when they feel unwell or had recent contact with an infected person
          • Only employees who are fully vaccinated, or recovered from COVID-19 in the past 180 days, are allowed to enter the workplace. Those who are certified by MOH to be medically ineligible for COVID-19 vaccination may continue to enter the workplace
          • Employers and employees can refer to the Updated Advisory on COVID-19 Vaccination at the Workplace for more details on work arrangements for unvaccinated employees. Employers may check their company’s vaccination rate through the Workforce Vaccination Checker (Corppass login required)

          2. Working at the workplace

          Employers should ensure the following precautions are in place for employees (as well as contractors and vendors) at the workplace:

          • Work processes should be reviewed and technology adopted to support employees to work from home. Accounting practices that require more information and support in this area can visit the SMP Centre.  For more information on solutions subsidized under government funding schemes, refer to the GoBusiness Gov Assist website;
          • Employees (and also contractors and vendors who are physically onsite at the workplace) are to wear their masks at all times when indoors, except during activities that require masks to be removed[1]; and employers should ensure sufficient masks are available;
          • In mask-off settings (e.g. staff canteen), there must be 1 metre between each group of up to 10 persons. Safe distancing is no longer required in mask-on settings;
          • Social gatherings at the workplace are permitted, as long as the relevant requirements are adhered to. For instance, at a mask-off social gathering, there must be 1 metre between each group of up to 10 persons;
          • Work-related events[2], including social events such as corporate dinner-and-dance, are subject to the following requirements:
            • Events with more than 1,000 attendees must only fill the event venue to 75% capacity
            • Food and beverages must be served individually and consumed while seated
            • The event must be compliant with Vaccination-Differentiated Safe Management Measures (VDS), i.e. all attendees must be fully vaccinated, recovered from COVID-19 within the past 180 days, or medically ineligible for vaccination[1]
            • Work-related events held at third-party venues will also be subject to any additional safe management policies of the premise owners
            • Safe distancing is no longer required in mask-on settings. In mask-off settings (e.g. consumption of food and beverage during an event), there must be 1 metre between each group of up to 10 persons.
            • Non-compliance with Safe Management Measures, including the failure to notify, will be met with firm action
          • Employers are encouraged to support their employees’ mental well-being during work. Employers can adopt the recommendations in the Tripartite Advisory on mental well-being at workplaces;
          • Employers should make plans to implement Flexible Work Arrangements (FWA) and consider hybrid work arrangements.

          For more information, please see Ministry of Manpower’s website on updated Requirements for Safe Management Measures (SMM) at the Workplace.

          3. Mandatory Safe Management Measures that should continue to be implemented

          All accounting practices need to continue to comply with the Safe Management Measures which are mandatory. Some of these measures are: 

          • Use the TraceTogether-only SafeEntry to record the entry of all personnel (including employees and visitors) entering the workplace. All employees and visitors should check-in and check-out of workplaces using SafeEntry to help MOH in establishing potential transmission chains; 
          • Minimise need for physical touchpoints (e.g. by deploying contactless access controls);
          • Regular disinfection of common touchpoints and equipment;
          • Provide cleaning and disinfecting agents such as hand soap and toilet paper at washrooms, and hand sanitisers at places such as entrances and lift lobbies in accordance with NEA’s advisory;
          • Increase ventilation where possible, in accordance with advisories by NEA or BCA;
          • Implement a detailed monitoring plan to ensure compliance with the measures, and appoint a Safe Management Officer to assist in the implementation, coordination and monitoring of the Safe Management Measures;
            • Communicate and explain measures to employees and reduce misunderstanding especially in measures related to working from home
            • Signs should be put up to remind employees and visitors to observe all measures in place
            • Unionised companies should engage their unions on such arrangements
          • Set in place MOH’s Health Protocols to manage potential cases and confirmed infected cases;
            • Protocol 1 – You are unwell; visit a Swab and Send Home clinic via private transport for a doctor to assess and advise on your next steps
            • Protocol 2 – You are well but tested positive; self-isolate at home for 72 hours and repeat the ART after. End isolation when ART result is negative
            • Protocol 3 – You are identified by MOH as a close contact of a COVID-19 case (Health Risk Warning); on Day 1, take an ART and upload results at go.gov.sg/agsubmit. Thereafter, observe a 5-day monitoring period, during which you can leave your house, including for work, after testing negative via an ART self-test on the given day
          • Workers should inform their employers if they are unwell, tested positive for COVID-19, or identified by MOH as a close contact of an infect person;
          • Employers are encouraged to take the following steps to reduce risk of workplace transmission upon notification that workers had been infected:
            • Establish if the colleagues had interacted with the infected worker recently
            • Conduct ART on colleagues who had interacted with the infected worker and follow Health Protocols. There is no need to send them home if they are tested negative
            • Clean the area where the infected worker was working in accordance with NEA’s advisory. There is no need to conduct deep cleaning of the premises
            • Review the implementation of Safe Management Measures
          • Employers should also refer to the Advisory on work and leave arrangements for employees who test positive for COVID-19 but are mildly symptomatic or physically well.

           

          As we transition to living with COVID-19, employers should retain and regularly review business continuity plans to keep their workplace resilient against the risk of new variants or future outbreaks. For more information on the Safe Management Measures, accounting practices may also refer to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM)’s website and MOM’s checklist.

          [1] The requirement for masks to be worn can be waived when carrying out, in the course of employment, an activity that requires that no mask may be worn, or that it must be removed in order that other equipment may be worn or used, to carry out that activity.

          [2] This refers to events that involve employees or stakeholders, such as conferences/seminars, corporate retreats, staff training sessions, Annual General Meetings and Extraordinary General Meetings. This is separate and distinct from MICE events approved by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

          [3] Please refer to MOH’s information sheet for details about the “fully vaccinated” status.

          FAQ 2 – Can my employees go to our clients’ premises to perform work?

          Accounting practices should continue to perform work at clients’ premises only if work procedures cannot be performed from home / work premises and if such work require employees to be at client’s premise, e.g. observation of physical inventory count, fixed asset sighting and sighting of original documents. For more information, please refer to ISCA COVID-19 Technical FAQs.

          Accounting Practices should continue to ensure the following are in place: 

          • Meetings at the clients’ premises should be strictly on appointment basis. Meetings with clients are strongly encouraged to be conducted online;
          • Understand and ensure that the client has put in place Safe Management Measures;
          • Require all employees that have to perform work at clients’ premises to use the TraceTogether App throughout the entire duration of the journey to/from the workplace/premise;
          • Ensure employees who have to perform work at clients’ premises are fully vaccinated;
          • Employees who have to perform work at clients’ premises are encouraged to self-test weekly using an Antigen Rapid Test (ART);
          • Always require employees to wear masks at clients’ premises (for indoor settings);
          • Limit the number of employees at each client’s premise to the extent required to perform the necessary tasks;
          • Limit the time employees spend at the client’s premise. Accounting practice employees are to leave the client’s premises immediately upon completion of their work;
          • Ensure employees comply with the Safe Management Measures that are in place at the client’s premises;
          • Do not allow employees who are unwell to visit the client’s premise;
          • Keep a log on the location of all employees at all times.


          Compliance and Penalties 

          Checks will be conducted, and businesses that do not fulfil the requirements will have their operations suspended. MOM and sector agencies will take calibrated enforcement actions based on the areas of non-compliance found.

          Breaches and poor practices can be reported to MOM.  

          FAQ 3 – Who and how many of my employees can return to the workplace?

          1. Employees who are not able to perform their work from home may include audit staff who would need to be at their clients’ premises to perform work such as sighting of physical documents or observing clients’ physical inventory count; and frontline staff such as receptionists and facilities managers who would need to be at the office to carry out their work.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
          2. We encourage accounting practices to keep in mind the spirit and intent of the safe management measures.  In the event of a physical inspection carried out by a Government Inspector, accounting practices should be able to demonstrate, based on their records, why their employees are unable to perform their work from home, and how they have complied with the safe management measures. Accounting practices should also maintain records on staff performing work at the clients’ premises and why such work cannot be performed from home or their own office.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
          3. Employers are encouraged to clearly communicate the prevailing measures and the arrangements to their employees to avoid misunderstandings and wrongly made reports of breaches. 

           

          FAQ 4 – What are the past requirements that have been lifted?

          Some SMM requirements have been progressively lifted. To facilitate implementation of the prevailing SMM requirements, this section lists down the past requirements that employers no longer need to implement:   

          • Demarcation of safe distancing (e.g. in meeting rooms) 
          • Restriction on cross-deployment across workplaces
          • Staggering of start times and break times
          • Temperature-taking at the workplace
          • Limiting workplace access to essential employees and authorised visitors
          • Evacuation plan for suspected COVID-19 cases
          • Deep cleaning for positive COVID-19 cases at the workplace
          • Requirements for work-related events with more than 50 attendees to implement zoning, to be static, and to notify the authorities beforehand


          For more information, accounting practices may refer to the frequently asked questions on Safe Management Measures at the workplace

          Issued 17 Mar 2022

          The Multi-Ministry Taskforce has announced that the planned streamlining of our COVID-19 Safe Management Measures (SMM) rules, which were earlier announced on 16 February 2022, will now proceed.  The tripartite partners, comprising of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), and National Trade Union Congress (NTUC), have updated the workplace safe management measures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission at the workplace. 

           

          Resuming our Transition to Resilience 

          The following changes take effect on 15 March 2022 as announced by the Multi-Ministry Taskforce. 

          • 1 metre safe distance will no longer be required in mask-on settings (e.g. meeting rooms, workstations). In mask-off settings (e.g. staff canteens, pantries), there must be 1 metre safe distance between each group of up to 5 persons
          • Social gatherings will be permitted at the workplace, in a group of up to 5 persons
          • Restriction on cross-deployment across workplaces will be lifted.
          • For work-related events:
            • There is no cap on the number of attendees, but events with more than 1,000 attendees must only fill the event venue to 50% capacity
            • Zoning is not required
            • Food and beverages are only allowed for events with 50 or fewer attendees
            • All attendees must be fully vaccinated, recovered from COVID-19 in the past 180 days, or medically ineligible for vaccination
            • For events with more than 50 attendees, the event organiser must notify the authorities at least 5 days before the event

           

          FAQ 1 – What are the updated requirements for safe management measures?

          1. Taking care of workers 

          Employers must implement Workforce Vaccination Measures (WVM) to keep their workforce safe and minimise strain on Singapore’s healthcare capacity.  

          • Up to 50% of employees who are able to work from home can be at the workplace at any point in time. For example, a company with 100 employees who can work from home can have up to 50 of these employees at the workplace at any point in timeThose who report to work onsite are encouraged to self-test weekly via an Antigen Rapid Test (ART)
          • Those who report to work onsite are encouraged to self-test weekly via an Antigen Rapid Test (ART)
          • Only employees who are fully vaccinated, or recovered from COVID-19 in the past 180 days, are allowed to enter the workplace. Those who are certified by MOH to be medically ineligible for COVID-19 vaccination may continue to enter the workplace

          2. Working at the workplace

          Employers should ensure the following precautions are in place for employees (as well as contractors and vendors) at the workplace:

          • Work processes should be reviewed and technology adopted to support employees to work from home. Accounting practices that require more information and support in this area can visit the SMP Centre.  For more information on solutions subsidized under government funding schemes, refer to the GoBusiness Gov Assist website;;
          • Employees (and also contractors and vendors who are physically onsite at the workplace) are to wear their masks at all times, except during activities that require masks to be removed[1]; and employers should ensure sufficient masks are available;
          • In mask-off settings (e.g. staff canteen), there must be 1 metre between each group of up to 5 persons. Safe distancing is no longer required in mask-on settings;
          • Social gatherings must be limited to the prevailing group size of 5 persons. Multiple groups of 5 persons must not congregate as a social gathering;
          • [2] are subject to the following requirements:
            • If food and beverages are not served, there is no cap on the number of attendees. However, events with more than 1,000 attendees must only fill the event venue to 50% capacity
            • If food and beverages are served, the event must be capped at 50 attendees. Meals should not be the main feature of the event, i.e. they should only be served if incidental to the workplace event. The food must be served individually with the participants seated while consuming. Participants should minimise the time that they are unmasked while eating
            • The event must be compliant with Vaccination-Differentiated Safe Management Measures (VDS), i.e. all attendees must be fully vaccinated, recovered from COVID-19 within the past 180 days, or medically ineligible for vaccination[3]
            • Work-related events held at third-party venues will also be subject to any additional safe management policies of the premise owners
            • For events with more than 50 attendees, the event organiser must notify the authorities at least 5 days before the event 
            • Safe distancing is no longer required in mask-on settings. In mask-off settings (e.g. consumption of food and beverage during an event with up to 50 attendees), there must be 1 metre between each group of up to 5 persons.
            • Non-compliance with Safe Management Measures, including the failure to notify, will be met with firm action
          • Employers are encouraged to support their employees’ mental well-being during work. Employers can adopt the recommendations in the Tripartite Advisory on mental well-being at workplaces;;
          • Employers should make plans to implement Flexible Work Arrangements (FWA) and consider hybrid work arrangements.
          • For more information, please see Ministry of Manpower’s website on updated Requirements for Safe Management Measures (SMM) at the Workplace 

           

          [1]The requirement for masks to be worn can be waived when carrying out, in the course of employment, an activity that requires that no mask may be worn, or that it must be removed in order that other equipment may be worn or used, to carry out that activity. 

          [2] This refers to events that involve employees or stakeholders, such as conferences/seminars, corporate retreats, staff training sessions, Annual General Meetings and Extraordinary General Meetings. This is separate and distinct from MICE events approved by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

          [3] Please refer to MOH’s information sheet for details about the “fully vaccinated” status.

           

          3. Mandatory Safe Management Measures that should continue to be implemented

          All accounting practices need to continue to comply with the Safe Management Measures which are mandatory. Some of these measures are: 

          • Use the TraceTogether-only SafeEntry to record the entry of all personnel (including employees and visitors) entering the workplace. All employees and visitors should check-in and check-out of workplaces using SafeEntry to help MOH in establishing potential transmission chains; 
          • Minimise need for physical touchpoints (e.g. by deploying contactless access controls);
          • Regular disinfection of common touchpoints and equipment;
          • Provide cleaning and disinfecting agents such as hand soap and toilet paper at washrooms, and hand sanitisers at places such as entrances and lift lobbies in accordance with NEA’s advisory;
          • Increase ventilation where possible, in accordance with advisories by NEA or BCA;
          • Implement a detailed monitoring plan to ensure compliance with the measures, and appoint a Safe Management Officer to assist in the implementation, coordination and monitoring of the Safe Management Measures;
            • Communicate and explain measures to employees and reduce misunderstanding especially in measures related to working from home
            • Signs should be put up to remind employees and visitors to observe all measures in place
            • Unionised companies should engage their unions on such arrangements
          • Set in place MOH’s Health Protocols to manage potential cases and confirmed infected cases;
            • Protocol 1 – You are unwell; visit a Swab and Send Home clinic via private transport for a doctor to assess and advise on your next steps
            • Protocol 2 – You are well but tested positive; self-isolate at home for 72 hours and repeat the ART after. End isolation when ART result is negative
            • Protocol 3 – You are identified by MOH as a close contact of a COVID-19 case (Health Risk Warning); on Day 1, take an ART and upload results at go.gov.sg/agsubmit. Thereafter, observe a 7-day monitoring period, during which you can leave your house, including for work, after testing negative via an ART self-test on the given day
          • Workers should inform their employers if they are unwell, tested positive for COVID-19, or identified by MOH as a close contact of an infect person;
          • Employers are encouraged to take the following steps to reduce risk of workplace transmission upon notification that workers had been infected:
            • Establish if the colleagues had interacted with the infected worker recently
            • Conduct ART on colleagues who had interacted with the infected worker and follow Health Protocols. There is no need to send them home if they are tested negative
            • Clean the area where the infected worker was working in accordance with NEA’s advisory. There is no need to conduct deep cleaning of the premises
            • Review the implementation of Safe Management Measures

          For more information on the Safe Management Measures, accounting practices may also refer to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM)’s website and MOM’s checklist.

           

          FAQ 2 – Can my employees go to our clients’ premises to perform work?

          Accounting practices should continue to perform work at clients’ premises only if work procedures cannot be performed from home / work premises and if such work require employees to be at client’s premise, e.g. observation of physical inventory count, fixed asset sighting and sighting of original documents. For more information, please refer to ISCA COVID-19 Technical FAQs.

          Accounting Practices should continue to ensure the following are in place: 

          • Meetings at the clients’ premises should be conducted only if online meetings are not possible. Meetings at the clients’ premises should be strictly on appointment basis; 
          • Understand and ensure that the client has put in place Safe Management Measures;
          • Require all employees that have to perform work at clients’ premises to use the TraceTogether App throughout the entire duration of the journey to/from the workplace/premise;
          • Ensure employees who have to perform work at clients’ premises are fully vaccinated;
          • Employees who have to perform work at clients’ premises are encouraged to self-test weekly using an Antigen Rapid Test (ART);
          • Always require employees to wear masks at clients’ premises;
          • Limit the number of employees at each client’s premise to the extent required to perform the necessary tasks;
          • Limit the time employees spend at the client’s premise. Accounting practice employees are to leave the client’s premises immediately upon completion of their work;
          • Ensure employees comply with the Safe Management Measures that are in place at the client’s premises;
          • Do not allow employees who are unwell to visit the client’s premise;
          • Keep a log on the location of all employees at all times.


          Compliance and Penalties
           

          Checks will be conducted, and businesses that do not fulfil the requirements will have their operations suspended. MOM and sector agencies will take calibrated enforcement actions based on the areas of non-compliance found.

          Breaches and poor practices can be reported to MOM.  

          FAQ 3 – Who and how many of my employees can return to the workplace?

          1. Employees who are not able to perform their work from home may include audit staff who would need to be at their clients’ premises to perform work such as sighting of physical documents or observing clients’ physical inventory count; and frontline staff such as receptionists and facilities managers who would need to be at the office to carry out their work.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
          2. We encourage accounting practices to keep in mind the spirit and intent of the safe management measures.  In the event of a physical inspection carried out by a Government Inspector, accounting practices should be able to demonstrate, based on their records, why their employees are unable to perform their work from home, and for those who can perform their work from home, how they have complied with the safe management measures. Accounting practices should also maintain records on staff performing work at the clients’ premises and why such work cannot be performed from home or their own office.
          3. Employers are encouraged to clearly communicate the prevailing measures and the arrangements to their employees to avoid misunderstandings and wrongly made reports of breaches. 

           

          FAQ 4 – What are the past requirements that have been lifted?

          Some SMM requirements have been progressively lifted. To facilitate implementation of the prevailing SMM requirements, this section lists down the past requirements that employers no longer need to implement:   

          • Demarcation of safe distancing (e.g. in meeting rooms) 
          • Restriction on cross-deployment across workplaces
          • Staggering of start times and break times
          • Temperature-taking at the workplace
          • Limiting workplace access to essential employees and authorised visitors
          • Evacuation plan for suspected COVID-19 cases
          • Deep cleaning for positive COVID-19 cases at the workplace
          • Requirements for work-related events with more than 50 attendees to implement zoning, and to be static


          For more information, accounting practices may refer to the frequently asked questions on Safe Management Measures at the workplace

          Issued 14 Feb 2022

          The Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced on 20 November 2021 that Singapore will exit the Stabilisation Phase into a Transition Phase. The tripartite partners, comprising of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), and National Trade Union Congress (NTUC), have updated the workplace safe management measures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission at the workplace.

          Transition Phase to COVID-19 Resilience

          The Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) new requirements, outlined below, are effective from 14 February 2022.

           

          FAQ 1 – What are the updated requirements for safe management measures?

          1. Taking care of workers 

          From 1 January 2022, more employees are allowed to return to the workplace. 

          • Up to 50% of employees who are able to work from home can be at the workplace at any point in time. For example, a company with 100 employees who can work from home can have up to 50 of these employees at the workplace at any point in time
          • Those who report to work onsite are encouraged to self-test weekly via an Antigen Rapid Test (ART)
          • From 15 January 2022 onwards, workers who are not fully vaccinated are not to enter the workplace, even with a negative Pre-Event Test (PET) result
          • Employers and employees can refer to the Updated Advisory on COVID-19 Vaccination at the Workplace for more details on work arrangements for unvaccinated employees. Employers may check their company’s vaccination rate through the Workforce Vaccination Checker (Corppass login required)

          2. Working at the workplace

          Employers should ensure the following precautions are in place for employees (as well as contractors and vendors) at the workplace:

          • Stagger start times and allow flexible working hours for all employees who need to return to the workplace. This would enable more employees to avoid peak-hour travel and reduce possible congregation of employees at common spaces at or near the workplace;
          • There should be no cross-deployment of workers to multiple worksites. If cross-deployment cannot be avoided (e.g. due to the nature of the job), additional safeguards must be taken to minimise the risk of cross infection (e.g. systems to be in place to ensure no direct contact between the cross-deployed personnel);
          • Work processes should be reviewed and technology adopted to support employees to work from home. Accounting practices that require more information and support in this area can visit the SMP Centre.  For more information on solutions subsidized under government funding schemes, refer to the GoBusiness Gov Assist website;
          • Social gatherings at the workplace will not be allowed;
          • Employees may have meal breaks at the workplace and should do so individually. They should refrain from intermingling with their colleagues when their masks are taken off;
          • Work-related events[1] with up to 50 participants are subject to the following requirements: 
            • Attendees must maintain at least 1 metre safe distance between one another
            • Meals should not be the main feature of the event
            • Food must be served individually with the participants seated while consuming
            • Participants should minimise the time that they are unmasked while eating
            • Work-related events held at third-party venues will also be subject to additional safe management policies of the premise owners
          • Work-related events with 51 to 1,000 participants are permitted from 3 January 2022 onwards, subject to the following requirements:
            • The event organiser must notify the authoritiess at least 5 days before the event
            • Attendees must maintain at least 1 metre safe distance between one another
            • Attendees must be in zones of up to 100 persons per zone, with 2 metres between zones
            • There must be no mask-off activities during the event, such as the consumption of food and beverage
            • The event must be static, with participants predominantly seated or standing in a fixed position
            • All attendees must be subject to Vaccination-Differentiated Safe Management Measure (VDS), i.e. every attendee must be fully vaccinated, recovered from COVID-19 within the past 180 days, or medically ineligible for vaccines under the National Vaccination Programme
            • Non-compliance with Safe Management Measures, including the failure to notify, will be met with firm action

          For more information, please see Ministry of Manpower’s website on updated Requirements for Safe Management Measures (SMM) at the Workplace. 

          Employers should make plans to implement Flexible Work Arrangements (FWA) and consider hybrid work arrangements

          [1] This refers to events that involve employees or stakeholders, such as conferences/seminars, corporate retreats, staff training sessions, Annual General Meetings and Extraordinary General Meetings

          For more information, please see Ministry of Manpower’s website on updated Requirements for Safe Management Measures (SMM) at the Workplace

          3. Mandatory Safe Management Measures that should continue to be implemented

          All accounting practices need to continue to comply with the Safe Management Measures which are mandatory. Some of these measures are:

          • Use the TraceTogether-only SafeEntry to record the entry of all personnel (including employees and visitors) entering the workplace. All employees and visitors should check-in and check-out of workplaces using SafeEntry to help MOH in establishing potential transmission chains; 
          • Employees are to wear their masks at all times; and employers should ensure sufficient masks are available;
          • Minimise need for physical touchpoints (e.g. by deploying contactless access controls);
          • Ensure clear physical spacing of at least 1 metre between persons at all times using visual indicators or physical demarcations (e.g. high barriers between workstations, relocation of workstations, meeting room seats);
          • Regular disinfection of common touchpoints and equipment;
          • Provide cleaning and disinfecting agents such as hand soap and toilet paper at washrooms, and hand sanitisers at places such as entrances and lift lobbies in accordance with NEA’s advisory
          • Increase ventilation where possible, in accordance with advisories by NEA or BCA;
          • Implement a detailed monitoring plan to ensure compliance with the measures, and appoint a Safe Management Officer to assist in the implementation, coordination and monitoring of the Safe Management Measures;
            • Communicate and explain measures to employees and reduce misunderstanding especially in measures related to working from home
            • Signs should be put up to remind employees and visitors to observe all measures in place
            • Unionised companies should engage their unions on such arrangement
          • Set in place MOH’s Health Protocols to manage potential cases and confirmed infected cases;
            • Protocol 1 – You are unwell; visit a Swab and Send Home clinic via private transport for a doctor to assess and advise on your next steps
            • Protocol 2 – You are well but tested positive; self-isolate at home for 72 hours and repeat the ART after. End isolation when ART result is negative
            • Protocol 3 – You are identified by MOH as a close contact of a COVID-19 case (Health Risk Warning); on Day 1, take an ART and upload results at go.gov.sg/agsubmit. Thereafter, observe a 7-day monitoring period, during which you can leave your house, including for work, after testing negative via an ART self-test on the given day
          • Workers should inform their employers if they are unwell, tested positive for COVID-19, or identified by MOH as a close contact of an infect person;
          • Employers are encouraged to take the following steps to reduce risk of workplace transmission upon notification that workers had been infected:
          • Establish if the colleagues had interacted with the infected worker recently
          • Conduct ART on colleagues who had interacted with the infected worker and follow Health Protocols. There is no need to send them home if they are tested negative
          • Clean the area where the infected worker was working in accordance with NEA’s advisory. There is no need to conduct deep cleaning of the premises
          • Review the implementation of Safe Management Measures

           

          FAQ 2 – Can my employees go to our clients’ premises to perform work?

          Accounting practices should continue to perform work at clients’ premises only if work procedures cannot be performed from home / work premises and if such work require employees to be at client’s premise, e.g. observation of physical inventory count, fixed asset sighting and sighting of original documents (when assessed to be necessary by the auditor, e.g. for higher risk areas). For more information, please refer to ISCA COVID-19 Technical FAQs.  

          Accounting Practices should continue to ensure the following are in place: 

          • Meetings at the clients’ premises should be conducted only if online meetings are not possible. Meetings at the clients’ premises should be strictly on appointment basis; 
          • Understand and ensure that the client has put in place Safe Management Measures;
          • Require all employees that have to perform work at clients’ premises to use the TraceTogether App throughout the entire duration of the journey to/from the workplace/premise;
          • Ensure employees who have to perform work at clients’ premises are fully vaccinated;
          • Employees who have to perform work at clients’ premises are encouraged to self-test weekly using an Antigen Rapid Test (ART);
          • Always require employees to wear masks at clients’ premises;
          • Physical meetings and interactions should be avoided unless necessary. If such meetings / interactions are required, safe distancing measures must be observed;
          • Limit the number of employees at each client’s premise to the extent required to perform the necessary tasks;
          • Implement team arrangements and avoid cross-deployment or interaction between employees in different teams or worksites;
          • Limit the time employees spend at the client’s premise. Accounting practice employees are to leave the client’s premises immediately upon completion of their work;
          • Ensure employees comply with the Safe Management Measures that are in place at the client’s premises;
          • Do not allow employees who are unwell to visit the client’s premise;
          • Keep a log on the location of all employees at all times.

           

          Compliance and Penalties

          Checks will be conducted, and businesses that do not fulfil the requirements will have their operations suspended. MOM and sector agencies will take calibrated enforcement actions based on the areas of non-compliance found.

          Breaches and poor practices can be reported to MOM.  

           

          FAQ 3 – Who and how many of my employees can return to the workplace?

          1. Employees who are not able to perform their work from home may include audit staff who would need to be at their clients’ premises to perform work such as sighting of physical documents or observing clients’ physical inventory count; and frontline staff such as receptionists and facilities managers who would need to be at the office to carry out their work.            

          2. We encourage accounting practices to keep in mind the spirit and intent of the safe management measures.  In the event of a physical inspection carried out by a Government Inspector, accounting practices should be able to demonstrate, based on their records, why their employees are unable to perform their work from home, and for those who can perform their work from home, how they have complied with the safe management measures. Accounting practices should also maintain records on staff performing work at the clients’ premises and why such work cannot be performed from home or their own office.

          3. Employers are encouraged to clearly communicate the prevailing measures and the arrangements to their employees to avoid misunderstandings and wrongly made reports of breaches.  

          Issued 15 May 2021

          The number of Covid-19 cases has continued to increase in recent weeks. Thus, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce has announced heightened measures to decisively arrest the increasing number of cases in the community.

          Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) Requirements, effective from 16 May 2021 to 13 June 2021.

          The Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) new requirements, outlined below, are effective from 16 May 2021 to 13 June 2021. 

           

          FAQ 1 – What are the updated requirements for safe management measures under phase 2 (Heightened Alert)?

          1. Working from home

          Employers must exercise heightened vigilance at the workplace.

          • Working from home will be the default mode of working to reduce physical interactions at the workplace. Employers must ensure that employees who are able to work from home do so.
          • There should be no cross-deployment of workers to multiple worksites. 
          • Employers are encouraged to support as many employees in working from home as possible. Work processes should be reviewed and technology adopted to support employees to work from home. Accounting practices that require more information and support in this area can visit the SMP Centre.  In addition to the solutions subsided under government funding schemes, small and medium-sized accounting practices (SMPs) can also tap on the funding support under the ISCA Support Fund.
          • Special attention should be paid to vulnerable staff (e.g. persons who are aged 60 and above, and patients who are immunocompromised or have concurrent medical conditions) to enable them to work from home or temporarily redeploying them to another role within the company, or take other appropriate measures to reduce their exposure to infection risk.

           

          2. Working at the workplace

          Employers must ensure the following precautions are in place for employees at the workplace:

          • Stagger start times and allow flexible working hours for all employees who need to return to the workplace and allow at least half of the employees at the workplace to start at or after 10am, as far as possible. This would enable more employees to avoid peak-hour travel.
          • Virtual meetings should continue to be conducted as much as possible.
          • Social gatherings at the workplace will not be allowed.
          • Employees may have meal breaks at the workplace, and should do so individually. They should refrain from intermingling with their colleagues when their masks are taken off.  
          • Employers should avoid organising work-related events unless critical (e.g. training session). If employers assess that the physical work-related event is critical, they may proceed with strict implementation of SMM:
            • The number of persons per event must be capped at 50 persons to limit the risk of exposure to infection.
            • Attendees must maintain at least 1 metre safe distancing between individual attendees, as per the requirement at the workplace
            • Food and drinks are not allowed at work-related events.


          For more information, please see Ministry of Manpower’s website on updated Requirements for Safe Management Measures (SMM) at the Workplace. 

           

          3. Mandatory Safe Management Measures that should continue to be implemented

          All accounting practices need to continue to comply with the Safe Management Measures, which are mandatory. Some of these measures are:

          • Implement a detailed monitoring plan to ensure compliance with the measures, and appoint a Safe Management Officer to assist in the implementation, coordination and monitoring of the Safe Management Measures;
          • Control access at the workplace to only essential employees and authorised visitors. 
          • Employers must use the SafeEntry visitor management system to record the entry of all personnel (including employees and visitors) entering the workplace. All employees and visitors should check-in and check-out of workplaces using SafeEntry to help MOH in establishing potential transmission chains.  
          • Before employees and visitors are allowed to enter the premises, they are required to declare (via SafeEntry or other means such as electronic or hard copy records) that they:
            • are currently not under a Quarantine Order, Stay-Home Notice;
            • have not had close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the past 14 days;
            • do not have any fever or flu-like symptoms;
          • Ensure that their employees adhere to MOH’s prevailing travel advisory;
          • Encourage all personnel, including suppliers/contractors, to download and activate the TraceTogether app;
          • Employees are to wear their masks at all times; and employers should ensure sufficient masks are available;
          • Implement regular temperature screening twice daily;
          • Actively monitor unwell employees and guard against incipient outbreaks by:
            • Requiring employees who have visited a clinic to submit records of their MCs and diagnoses provided (only for COVID-19 related symptoms, including acute respiratory infections), and results of their tests if they were tested for COVID-19 to employers;
            • Taking preventive action such as advising employees who are unwell to stay home and consult a doctor; and requiring close contacts of unwell employees to monitor their health before returning to the workplace
          • Where possible, ensure that each employee visits only one clinic for check-ups if unwell. Otherwise, employees should inform the clinic of all recent doctor visits over the past 14 days for any symptoms that may be related to COVID-19;
          • Stagger work and break hours to reduce possible congregation of employees at common workspaces. Where possible, reporting and ending times should not coincide with peak-hour travel;
          • Minimise need for physical touchpoints (e.g. by deploying contactless access controls);
          • Ensure employees adhere to the permissible group size based on prevailing guidelines on social gatherings at the workplace, including during meals or breaks;
          • Ensure clear physical spacing of at least 1 metre between persons at all times using visual indicators or physical demarcations (e.g. high barriers between workstations, relocation of workstations, meeting room seats);
          • Regular disinfection of common touchpoints and equipment;
          • Provide cleaning and disinfecting agents such as hand soap and toilet paper at washrooms, and hand sanitisers at places such as entrances and lift lobbies;
          • Set in place protocols to manage potential cases and confirmed infected cases;
          • Have an evacuation plan for unwell / suspected cases and others at the workplace. In the event of a confirmed case at workplace, the affected area should be vacated, cordoned off and all exposed surfaces to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. 

          For more information on the Safe Management Measures, accounting practices may also refer to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM)’s website and MOM’s checklist.

          FAQ 2 – Can my employees go to our clients’ premises to perform work?

          There is no change to the requirements of working at the client’s premises. Accounting practices should continue to perform work at clients’ premises only if work procedures cannot be performed from home / work premises and if such work require employees to be at client’s premise, e.g. observation of physical inventory count, fixed asset sighting and sighting of original documents (when assessed to be necessary by the auditor, e.g. for higher risk areas). For more information, please refer to  ISCA COVID-19 Technical FAQs.

          Accounting Practices should continue to ensure the following are in place: 

          • Meetings at the clients’ premises should be conducted only if online meetings are not possible. Meetings at the clients’ premises should be strictly on appointment basis; 
          • Accounting practices should confirm with the client that they do not have employees who are suspected and/or confirmed cases in the last 14 days before allowing employees to go to the clients’ premises;
          • Understand and ensure that the client has put in place Safe Management Measures;
          • Require all employees that have to perform work at clients’ premises to use the TraceTogether App throughout the entire duration of the journey to/from the workplace/premise; 
          • Always require employees to wear masks at clients’ premise;
          • Physical meetings and interactions should be avoided unless necessary. If such meetings / interactions are required, safe distancing measures must be observed;
          • Limit the number of employees at each client’s premise to the extent required to perform the necessary tasks; 
          • Implement team arrangements and avoid cross-deployment or interaction between employees in different teams or worksites;
          • Limit the time employees spend at the client’s premise. Accounting practice employees are to leave the client’s premises immediately upon completion of their work;
          • Ensure employees comply with the Safe Management Measures that are in place at the client’s premises; 
          • Do not allow employees who are unwell to visit the client’s premise;
          • Keep a log on the location of all employees at all times..


          Compliance and Penalties 

          Checks will be conducted, and businesses that do not fulfil the requirements will have their operations suspended. MOM and sector agencies will take calibrated enforcement actions based on the areas of non-compliance found. 

          Breaches and poor practices can be reported via SnapSAFE.

          FAQ 3 – Who and how many of my employees can return to the workplace?

          1. Working from home is the default mode of working to reduce physical interactions at the workplace. Employers must ensure that employees who are able to work from home do so.

          2. Employees who are not able to perform their work from home may include audit staff who would need to be at their clients’ premises to perform work such as sighting of physical documents or observing clients’ physical inventory count; and frontline staff such as receptionists and facilities managers who would need to be at the office to carry out their work.

          3. We encourage accounting practices to keep in mind the spirit and intent of the safe management measures.  In the event of a physical inspection carried out by a Government Inspector, accounting practices should be able to demonstrate, based on their records, why their employees are unable to perform their work from home, and for those who can perform their work from home, how they have complied with the safe management measures. Accounting practices should also maintain records on staff performing work at the clients’ premises and why such work cannot be performed from home or their own office.

          4. Employers are encouraged to clearly communicate the prevailing measures and the arrangements to their employees to avoid misunderstandings and wrongly made reports of breaches. 

          Issued 12 Nov 2020

          The number of Covid-19 cases has remained low in the community recently and thus, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce has eased measures to enable more employees to return to the workplace.

          Despite a downward trend in the number of community cases, we would like to urge all accounting practices to continue to remain alert by ensuring a safe working environment for your staff, as well as your clients.

          SAC and ISCA have issued the following advisory so that accounting practices can update their safe management measures. The Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) new requirements, outlined below, are effective from 28 September 2020.

           

          FAQ 1 - With the easing of measures to enable more employees to return to the workplace, what are the updated requirements for safe management measures?

          1. Working from home

          Working from home should continue to be the default mode of working to reduce physical interactions at the workplace.

          From 28 September, employees who are able to work from home may return to the workplace if the following requirements are adhered to: 

          • Employees must continue to work from home for at least half their working time. To illustrate, a full-time worker on a six-day work week is allowed to be in the office for up to three days in a week. Returning to the workplace can either be initiated by the employee and agreed upon with the employer, or directed by the employer.
          • No more than half of the employees who are able to work from home should return to the workplace at any point in time.  To achieve this, employees who are able to work from home can be split into two teams, with each team returning to the workplace on alternate weeks.
          • Work processes should be reviewed and technology adopted to support employees to work from home.
          • Accounting practices that require more information and support in this area can visit the SMP Centre. For more information on subsidised solutions to support working from home (e.g. online collaboration, virtual meetings)  refer to the  GoBusiness Gov Assist website. [As part of the Resilience Budget announced on 26 March 2020, the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) was enhanced to increase the maximum support level from 70% to 80% till 30 September 2021. The scope of the pre-approved digital solutions under PSG was expanded to include COVID-19 relevant solutions, such as online collaboration, virtual meetings, queue management and temperature screening. The support for COVID-19 solutions will end on 31 December 2020.]
          • Special attention should be paid to vulnerable staff, e.g. older, pregnant or those with underlying medical conditions, to enable them to work from home or temporarily redeploying them to another role within the company etc.

           

          2. Working at the workplace

          Employers must ensure the following precautions are in place for employees at the workplace:

          • Stagger start times for all employees to allow at least half of the employees at the workplace to start at or after 10am, as far as possible. This would enable more employees to avoid peak-hour travel.
          • For employees who can work from home, implement flexible working hours to allow flexibility to reduce the duration spent in the workplace.
          • Implement shift or split team arrangements, with each team restricted to one worksite wherever possible. No employee should work in more than one team or worksite. Employers must also ensure clear separation of employees on different teams or shifts. If cross-deployment cannot be avoided due to the nature of the job, additional safeguards must be taken to minimise the risk of cross infection.
          • Virtual meetings should continue to be conducted as much as possible.

           

          3. Events within the workplace may resume

          Work-related events within the workplace that are business-oriented (such as conferences, seminars, corporate retreats, Annual General Meetings and Extraordinary General Meetings) will be allowed to resume, for up to 50 persons (or lower depending on venue capacity based on safe management principles) with strict adherence to Safe Management Measures requirements, e.g. at least 1 metre safe distancing between each employee.

          Food and drinks should preferably not be served at workplace events. If deemed necessary for practical reasons to serve meals, individuals must be seated and served individually and minimise contact with one another while eating.

          As per existing guidelines, employers must not organise or encourage social gatherings within or outside the workplace.

          For more information, please see MOM’s updated Requirements for Safe Management Measures (SMM) at the Workplace.

           

          Mandatory Safe Management Measures that should continue to be implemented

          All accounting practices need to continue to comply with the Safe Management Measures, which are mandatory. Some of these measures are:

          • Implement a detailed monitoring plan to ensure compliance with the measures, and appoint a Safe Management Officer to assist in the implementation, coordination and monitoring of the Safe Management Measures;
          • Allow only authorised essential visitors to enter your workplace;
          • Before employees and visitors are allowed to enter the premises, they are required to declare (via SafeEntry or other means such as electronic or hard copy records) that they:
            • are currently not under a Quarantine Order, Stay-Home Notice;
            • have not had close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the past 14 days;
            • do not have any fever or flu-like symptoms;
          • Ensure that their employees adhere to MOH’s prevailing travel advisory;
          • Encourage all personnel, including suppliers/contractors, to download and activate the TraceTogether app;
          • Employees are to wear their masks at all times; and employers should ensure sufficient masks are available;
          • Implement regular temperature screening twice daily;
          • Actively monitor unwell employees and guard against incipient outbreaks by:
            • Requiring employees who have visited a clinic to submit records of their MCs and diagnoses provided (only for COVID-19 related symptoms, including acute respiratory infections), and results of their tests if they were tested for COVID-19 to employers;
            • Taking preventive action such as advising employees who are unwell to stay home and consult a doctor; and requiring close contacts of unwell employees to monitor their health before returning to the workplace
          • Where possible, ensure that each employee visits only one clinic for check-ups if unwell. Otherwise, employees should inform the clinic of all recent doctor visits over the past 14 days for any symptoms that may be related to COVID-19;
          • Stagger work and break hours to reduce possible congregation of employees at common workspaces. Where possible, reporting and ending times should not coincide with peak-hour travel;
          • Minimise need for physical touchpoints (e.g. by deploying contactless access controls);
          • Ensure employees adhere to the permissible group size based on prevailing guidelines on social gatherings at the workplace, including during meals or breaks;
          • Ensure clear physical spacing of at least 1 metre between persons at all times using visual indicators or physical demarcations (e.g. high barriers between workstations, relocation of workstations, meeting room seats);
          • Regular disinfection of common touchpoints and equipment;
          • Provide cleaning and disinfecting agents such as hand soap and toilet paper at washrooms, and hand sanitisers at places such as entrances and lift lobbies;
          • Set in place protocols to manage potential cases and confirmed infected cases;
          • Have an evacuation plan for unwell / suspected cases and others at the workplace. In the event of a confirmed case at workplace, the affected area should be vacated, cordoned off and all exposed surfaces to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. 


          For more information on the Safe Management Measures, accounting practices may also refer to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM)’s website and MOM’s checklist.

           

          FAQ 2 - With the easing of measures, can my employees go to our clients' premises to perform work?

          There is no change to the requirements of working at the client’s premises. Accounting practices should continue to perform work at clients’ premises only if work procedures cannot be performed from home / work premises and if such work require employees to be at client’s premise, e.g. observation of physical inventory count, fixed asset sighting and sighting of original documents (when assessed to be necessary by the auditor, e.g. for higher risk areas). For more information, please refer to ISCA COVID-19 Technical FAQs.

          Accounting Practices should continue to ensure the following are in place:

          • Meetings at the clients’ premises should be conducted only if online meetings are not possible. Meetings at the clients’ premises should be strictly on appointment basis;
          • Accounting practices should confirm with the client that they do not have employees who are suspected and/or confirmed cases in the last 14 days before allowing employees to go to the clients’ premises;
          • Understand and ensure that the client has put in place Safe Management Measures;
          • Require all employees that have to perform work at clients’ premises to use the TraceTogether App throughout the entire duration of the journey to/from the workplace/premise;
          • Always require employees to wear masks at clients’ premise;
          • Physical meetings and interactions should be avoided unless necessary.  If such meetings / interactions are required, safe distancing measures must be observed;
          • Limit the number of employees at each client’s premise to the extent required to perform the necessary tasks;
          • Implement team arrangements and avoid cross-deployment or interaction between employees in different teams or worksites;
          • Limit the time employees spend at the client’s premise. Accounting practice employees are to leave the client’s premises immediately upon completion of their work;
          • Ensure employees comply with the Safe Management Measures that are in place at the client’s premises;
          • Do not allow employees who are unwell to visit the client’s premise;
          • Keep a log on the location of all employees at all times.


          Compliance and Penalties
           

          Checks will be conducted, and businesses that do not fulfil the requirements will have their operations suspended. MOM and sector agencies will take calibrated enforcement actions based on the areas of non-compliance found. 

           

          FAQ 3 - Who and how many of my employees can return to the workplace?

          1. Working from home is the default mode of working to reduce physical interactions at the workplace, and therefore, the number of staff returning to the workplace should be kept as low as possible.

          2. Employees who are not able to perform their work from home may include audit staff who would need to be at their clients’ premises to perform work such as sighting of physical documents or observing clients’ physical inventory count; and frontline staff such as receptionists and facilities managers who would need to be at the office to carry out their work.

          3. Employees who can perform their work from home must continue to do so for at least half their working time.

          4. No more than half of employees who can perform their work from home are allowed to return to the workplace at any point in time.

          5. We encourage accounting practices to keep in mind the spirit and intent of the safe management measures.  In the event of a physical inspection carried out by a Government Inspector, accounting practices should be able to demonstrate, based on their records, why their employees are unable to perform their work from home, and for those who can perform their work from home, how they have complied with the cap on time spent and number of employees in office as highlighted in point (3) and (4) above and all other safe management measures. Accounting practices should also maintain records on staff performing work at the clients’ premises and why such work cannot be performed from home or their own office.

          6. Employers are encouraged to clearly communicate the prevailing measures and the arrangements to their employees to avoid misunderstandings and wrongly made reports of breaches.

           

          Issued 26 May 2020

          The Multi-Ministry Taskforce for Covid-19 announced on 19 May 2020 that Circuit Breaker measures will be gradually eased and businesses will resume in three phases starting from 2 June 2020. To keep our workplaces safe, safe management measures need to be put in place ahead of time and implemented from 2 June 2020.

           

          FAQ 1 - As Singapore exits the circuit breaker after 1 June 2020, can accounting practices resume business activities at work premises?

          Accounting practices will be allowed to resume operations in Phase 1, i.e. from 2 June 2020.

           

          FAQ 2 - Do accounting practices need to apply for an exemption to resume operations on 2 June?

          Accounting practices do not need to apply for an exemption before resuming operations. MTI will grant accounting practices a class exemption to resume operations with effect from 2 June 2020, subject to the implementation of safe management measures (see FAQ 4 for details). However, existing measures (e.g. applying for time-limited exemptions or general exemptions) will continue to be in place until these measures are lifted on 2 June 2020.

           

          FAQ 3 - Are there any requirements that accounting practices need to fulfil before accounting practices can resume operations?

          Accounting practices need to fulfil the following to resume operations:

          a. Submission of manpower details via the GoBusiness portal

          Accounting practices must submit their manpower details such as (i) the total number of employees / workers working on-site and (ii) the proportion of these employees/ workers who are working part-time and shifts via the GoBusiness portal (https://covid.gobusiness.gov.sg) within two weeks of the date of resumption of operations. They may do so by using the “Permissions and Manpower Declaration” button on the GoBusiness portal from 26 May 2020 onwards.

          b. Comply with Safe Management Measures

          Accounting practices must comply with the requirements for Safe Management Measures seen on https://covid.gobusiness.gov.sg/safemanagement/general/ (“Safe Management Requirements”) and any sector-specific requirements as indicated under FAQ 5. Strict checks will be conducted, and accounting practices that do not abide by the measures will have their operations suspended until they are able to do so.

          c. Adopt Telecommuting (work from home) to the maximum extent

          Accounting practices that are able to continue to operate their business with their employees working from home should continue to do so. Employees should only come into the office when demonstrably needed, e.g. to perform work procedures or access specialised systems/equipment that cannot be accessed from home or to complete a contract or transaction that is legally required to be completed in person and on-site.

          We encourage accounting practices to continuously review work processes and leverage on technology to support their employees to work from home. Accounting practices that require more information and support in this area can visit the SMP Centre. Accounting practices keen to find out more about subsidised solutions to support working from home (e.g. online collaboration, virtual meetings) can refer to the websites of Enterprise Singapore and the Infocomm Media Development Authority[1].

          Special attention should be paid to vulnerable staff, e.g. older, pregnant or those with underlying medical conditions, to enable them to work from home. Internal and external meetings should also be conducted online, where possible.

          All events and activities that involve close and prolonged contact, and social gatherings at workplace should be cancelled or deferred. 

          [1] As part of the Resilience Budget announced by DPM Heng on 26 March 2020, the Productivity Solutions Grant was enhanced to increase the maximum support level from 70% to 80% till 31 December 2020. The scope of the pre-approved digital solutions under PSG was expanded to include COVID-19 relevant solutions, such as online collaboration, virtual meetings, queue management and temperature screening.

           

          FAQ 4 - What are the Safe Management Measures that accounting practices have to comply with?

          Mandatory Safe Management Measures

          All accounting practices must put in place safe management measures before resuming workplace activities. This includes retaining telecommuting (work from home) arrangements. Accounting practices can access more information on the requirements for Safe Management Measures at the workplace, as well as any sector-specific requirements, at https://covid.gobusiness.gov.sg/safemanagement/general. 

          These measures include, but not limited to the following:

          • Implement a detailed monitoring plan to ensure compliance with the measures, and appoint a Safe Management Officer to assist in the implementation, coordination and monitoring of the Safe Management Measures;
          • Telecommute (work from home), where possible;
          • Conduct online meetings, where possible;
          • Allow only authorised essential visitors to enter your workplace;
          • Implement SafeEntry to log the check-in and check-out of employees and visitors. Unwell employees and visitors should be refused entry; 
          • Encourage all personnel, including suppliers/contractors whom you are meeting offsite, to download and activate the TraceTogether app;
          • Onsite employees are to wear masks at all times. Employers should ensure sufficient masks are available (including replacement masks);
          • Implement onsite regular temperature screening and checks for respiratory symptoms twice daily;
          • Implement protocols for employees and visitors to make declarations on the following and to maintain these records:
            • Travel history
            • Quarantine or isolation orders, stay-home notices or MC for respiratory symptoms
            • Any close contact of a COVID confirmed case
          • Unwell employees should consult a doctor soonest and should not report to work;
          • Stagger work and break hours to reduce possible congregation of employees at common work spaces. Where possible, reporting and ending times should not coincide with peak-hour travel;
          • Implement split team arrangements. There must be no cross-deployment or interaction between employees in different teams or worksites, even outside of work;
          • Minimise need for physical touchpoints (e.g. by deploying contactless access controls);
          • Avoid socialising with colleagues (e.g. interacting at staff canteens or having meals in groups);
          • Ensure clear physical spacing of at least 1 metre between persons at all times using visual indicators or physical demarcations (e.g. high barriers between workstations, relocation of workstations, meeting room seats);
          • Regular disinfection of common touchpoints and equipment;
          • Provide cleaning and disinfecting agents such as hand soap and toilet paper at washrooms, and hand sanitisers at places such as entrances and lift lobbies;
          • Set in place protocols to manage potential cases and confirmed infected cases;
          • Have an evacuation plan for unwell / suspected cases and others at the workplace. In the event of a confirmed case at workplace, the affected area should be vacated, cordoned off and all exposed surfaces to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

          For more information on the Safe Management Measures, accounting practices may also refer to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM)’s website and MOM’s checklist.

          The above measures must be in place, communicated and explained to employees prior to resuming work at work premise.

          If the Safe Management Measures are not well implemented, MOM, MOH and sector agencies can take action against errant employers, including the cessation of operations and enforcement.

          Employees also have a part to play to keep their co-workers, customers and families safe. They should practice safe distancing, maintain good hygiene practices such as washing their hands frequently and wearing a mask, avoid going to work if they are unwell, and avoid social gatherings at and outside the workplace.

          Those who wish to report breaches or poor practices can do so via SnapSAFE (www.mom.gov.sg/eservices/snapsafe) – an app that allows the reporting of workplace safety and health issues to MOM.

           

          FAQ 5 - Can my employees go to our clients’ premises to perform work?

          Accounting practices should only perform work at clients’ premises only if work procedures cannot be performed from home / work premises and if such work require employees to be at client’s premise, e.g. observation of physical inventory count, fixed asset sighting and sighting of original documents (when assessed to be necessary by the auditor, e.g. for higher risk areas). Refer to ISCA COVID-19 Technical FAQs.

          In addition, accounting practices should ensure the following are in place, prior to allowing employees to perform field work at client’s premise:

          • Meetings at the clients’ premises should be conducted only if online meetings are not possible. Meetings at the clients’ premises should be strictly on appointment basis;
          • Accounting practices should confirm with the client that they do not have workers who are suspected and/or confirmed cases in the last 14 days before allowing employees to go to the clients’ premises;
          • Understand and ensure that the client has put in place Safe Management Measures;
          • Require all employees that have to perform work at clients’ premises to use the TraceTogether App throughout the entire duration of the journey to/from the workplace/premise;
          • Always require employees to wear masks at client’s’ premise;
          • Physical meetings and interactions should be avoided unless necessary. If such meetings / interactions are required, safe distancing measures must be observed;
          • Limit the number of employees at each client’s premise to the extent required to perform the necessary tasks;
          • Implement team arrangements and avoid cross-deployment or interaction between employees in different teams or worksites;
          • Limit the time employees spend at client’s premise and accounting practice employees are to leave client’s premises immediately upon completion of the work procedures;
          • Ensure employees comply with the Safe Management Measures that are in place at the premises;
          • Do not allow employees who are unwell to visit client’s premise; and
          • Keep a log on the location of all employees at all times.

          Issued 14 April 2020, Updated 27 April 2020

          On 3 April 2020, the Prime Minister and the Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced the implementation of an elevated set of safe distancing measures to pre-empt the trend of increasing local transmission of COVID-19. These measures, including the suspension of business activities, except for those providing essential services and selected economic sectors which are critical for our local and the global supply chains, are intended to significantly reduce movements and interactions in public and private places. Work and business activities that can be carried out via telecommuting from home should continue. 

          On 21 April 2020, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced that it would extend the circuit breaker period until 1 Jun 2020 (inclusive). 

          The heightened safe distancing measures will be in place for eight weeks from 7 April 2020 until 1 June 2020 (inclusive).

           

          FAQ 1 - How will the enhanced safe distancing measures affect accounting practices?

          During the period of the heightened safe distancing measures (7 April 2020 to 1 June 2020), all in-person activities and activities at your business location should be suspended.

          Essential services and their related supply chains and service providers are exempted from the suspension. All other business, social, or other activities that cannot be conducted through telecommuting or other means from home shall be suspended from 7 April 2020 to 1 June 2020. The list of activities that will be allowed to continue to operate will be updated at https://covid.gobusiness.gov.sg/essentialservices.

          Accounting services are not essential services

          We have clarified with the relevant authorities that accounting services, which include accounting, bookkeeping, auditing and tax consultancy, are not among the essential services listed by the authorities.

          While we recognise the accounting sector remains a key pillar of our economy, we appreciate the cooperation of accounting practices to suspend all in-person activities and activities at your business location and play our part to help overcome this pandemic.

          Entities that are able to continue to operate their business with their employees working from home should continue to do so. Where possible, we encourage practices to adopt audio conferencing and other IT tools to support their employees to work from home.

           

          FAQ 2 - Is my practice required to suspend all business activities if my operations cannot continue via telecommuting?

          Where possible, businesses are encouraged to adopt video and audio conferencing and other IT tools to support their workers to work from home.

          Time-limited exemption

          Firms with selected functions that: (i) need to continue but (ii) cannot be performed via telecommuting due to sensitivity (e.g. payroll processing), are encouraged to apply for a TIME-LIMITED EXEMPTION, to obtain permission to activate a small number of employees to work at the business premises and/or designated locations for short periods of time (i.e. less than a day). The total number of employees activated should not exceed 10, or 25% of the total number of employees in your company, whichever is lower. 

          Please note that each company is only allowed to submit applications only twice per week (each week starting from Sunday 12:00am to Saturday 11:59pm) during the circuit-breaker period. <Updated 27 April>

          Accounting practices can write in to the Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC) at enquiries@sac.gov.sg if they require additional applications for time-limited exemptions to perform key activities that cannot be done remotely (e.g. payroll processing). SAC will assess and appeal to MTI on a case-by-case basis. 

          General exemption

          Firms that need to maintain a small workforce for IT support and maintenance, to enable telecommuting, are encouraged to apply for a GENERAL EXEMPTION. Businesses are strongly encouraged to consult the SAC at enquiries@sac.gov.sg before seeking exemption for IT support staff. Employers should ensure that non-essential IT activities should be done offsite as much as possible.

          Application website

          If you own a business with multiple entities, please note that you will need to submit separate applications for each registered business.

          Entities that wish to apply for time-limited or general exemptions should make an application at https://covid.gobusiness.gov.sg

           

          FAQ 3 - Can I go to my workplace to perform maintenance work, receive deliveries or perform other necessary tasks?

          Business owners who ish to visit the business premises alone to take care of crucial tasks that cannot be done remotely or to retrieve necessary materials or documents can do so. They need not submit a request for exemption. However, this should be done only when necessary.

          If you need to activate your employees to work on-site for short periods of time (i.e. less than a day), you will need to apply for a TIME-LIMITED EXEMPTION.

          Entities which wish to apply for exemptions should make an application at https://covid.gobusiness.gov.sg

           

          FAQ 4 - What are the relevant measures for companies and accounting practices?

          ACRA: Extension of deadline for holding Annual General Meetings and filing of Annual Returns

          The relevant authorities have also announced new measures to support and address the concerns of companies and accounting practices. The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) has announced on 7 April 2020 that it will grant a 60-day extension of time for all listed and non-listed companies whose AGMs are due during the period 16 April 2020 to 31 July 2020. Companies that had been granted extension of time to hold their AGMs within this period will also be given a further 60 days of extension from the last date of extension. The due dates for filing Annual Returns for the period 1 May 2020 to 31 August 2020 for all listed and non-listed companies have also been extended for 60 days. There is no need for these companies to apply to ACRA for the extension of time.

          Please refer to ACRA’s website for more information.

          IRAS: Extension of Tax Filing Deadlines <Updated 27 April>

          As part of support measures to help taxpayers in light of the COVID-19 situation, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) is providing an automatic extension of deadlines for tax filing for individuals and businesses:

          S/N

          Tax Type

          Original Filing Deadline

          Extended Filing Deadline

          1

          Income Tax for Individuals (including sole proprietors and partnerships)

          18 Apr 2020

          31 May 2020

          2

          Income Tax for Trusts, Clubs and Associations

          15 Apr 2020

          30 Jun 2020 (Updated)

          3

          Estimated Chargeable Income (ECI) for companies with Financial Year ending Jan 2020

          30 Apr 2020

          30 Jun 2020 (Updated)

          4

          Estimated Chargeable Income (ECI) for companies with Financial Year ending Feb 2020

          31 May 2020

          30 Jun 2020 (Updated)

          5

          GST Returns for accounting period ending Mar 2020 [1]

          30 Apr 2020

          11 May 2020

          6

          S45 Withholding Tax Forms due in Apr 2020

          15 Apr 2020

          15 May 2020

          7

          Tax Clearances for foreign employee in Apr 2020

          -

          30 Jun 2020 (Updated)

          8

          Tax Clearances for foreign employees due in May 2020

          -

          30 Jun 2020 (Updated)

          [1] GST-registered businesses making GST payments to IRAS will be allowed to file their tax returns based on information available.

          Please refer to IRAS’ website for more information.  

          Solidarity Budget 2020: Further support for businesses though the circuit breaker period <Updated 27 April>

          During this circuit breaker period, many accounting practices may not be able to operate or can only operate at a much reduced level. To help businesses, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat announced additional support on 6 April 2020. Businesses will receive additional help with labour and rental costs, as well as financing support during the circuit breaker period. You may find more information at the following link: https://www.gov.sg/article/solidarity-budget-2020-further-support-for-businesses-through-the-circuit-breaker-period

          In addition, the Government has also announced on 21 April 2020 that it will continue to support our people and businesses through the extended circuit breaker period, building on the measures introduced in the Unity, Resilience, and Solidarity Budgets since 18 February 2020. You can find more information at the following link: https://www.mof.gov.sg/Newsroom/press-releases/government-to-continue-support-measures-to-protect-livelihoods-and-stabilise-businesses-during-extended-circuit-breaker-period.

          ISCA: COVID-19 Centre 

          To address the various challenges faced by companies and accounting practices, ISCA has collated a series of resources to help members deal with the accounting and auditing issues arising from the COVID-19 crisis and relevant news to better understand the economic and social impact of COVID-19. 

          ISCA has also put together a comprehensive summary guide covering the relevant schemes announced through the Government’s Support Packages, Industry Transformation and Development programmes as well as ISCA’s initiatives. This guide will help accounting practices understand how the various schemes can be relevant to them, and how they can access help for themselves and/or their organisations. The ISCA’s COVID-19 Navigator – A Guide for Singapore Chartered Accountants can be found at https://isca.org.sg/covid-19-series/resources/business-support/.

          In addition to the resources, ISCA’s COVID-19 centre offers an eLearning space and a series of Digital Conferences specially curated for the accounting community to take care of the professional development needs.

          You can find more information at https://isca.org.sg/covid-19-series/

          Virtual Small and Medium-sized Practices (SMP) Centre

          Launched on 22 August 2019, the virtual SMP Centre is a dedicated, one-stop platform of information, tools and services that help accounting practices, particularly the SMPs, to build productive and competitive businesses.

           Accounting practices that are keen to adopt technology can visit the virtual centre to:

          •        Explore the list of digital solutions curated by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), ISCA and SAC;
          •        Explore the list of relevant training on digital skills to upskill themselves or their employees;
          •        Access a dedicated channel for SMPs to seek consultation on the digitalisation of their firms or other SMP related enquiries via a consultation form.

          In addition, accounting practices can receive funding support of up to 70% of the cost of adopting some of the digital solutions listed on this portal.

          Please visit https://www.smpcentre.org.sg for more details.

           

          FAQ 5 - What are the penalties for companies that continue operations when they are not supposed to do so?

          As of 7 April, companies which provide essential operations or have received approval for exemptions can continue operations. Companies providing non-essential services and have not received approval for exemptions must suspend operations at their workplaces.

          Enforcement agencies will be conducting spot checks during this period and companies in non-essential sectors that remain open without approval are liable to be charged under applicable laws, including the Infectious Diseases Act, and COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020.

          Companies that have been allowed to continue operations or have received exemptions must continue to implement safe distancing measures by:

          •        Ensuring all activities that can take place through telecommuting must be done from home
          •        Reducing the need for and duration of physical interactions
          •        Staggering work hours
          •        Postponing all group events
          •        Implementing shift work and/or split team arrangements

          If not, they are also liable to be charged under the Infectious Diseases Act.

          We encourage accounting practices to keep in mind the spirit and intent of the Government’s circuit breaker strategy and measures to play our part to curb the spread of the infection.

          Other FAQs

          1MTI’s FAQs on Circuit BreakerMTI’s FAQs on Circuit Breaker Cover essential services, suspension of activities and sector-specific queries
           2  MOM’s FAQs for Business OwnersCover precautionary measures, flexible work arrangements, entry approvals and LOA/SHN matters

          If you wish to find out the latest information and updates on COVID-19, we have also appended some links to relevant government agencies below which you will find useful.

          Useful links