Employers helping staff to breathe easier

File photo of One Raffles Quay, 12:45pm on 21 June 2013.
PHOTO: Employers helping staff to breathe easier

SINGAPORE - Staff at various companies across the island were able to breathe a little easier amid the haze on Thursday after bosses installed air purifiers and carbon filters, handed out masks or allowed employees to work from home.

Restaurant chain Han's even served herbal tea and green bean soup at staff meals to keep health and spirits up.

The crisis response came as Singapore Business Federation (SBF) chief operating officer Victor Tay urged companies to put workers' welfare first.

"SBF has also distributed face masks to its employees, and understands that some professional services firms are contemplating allowing susceptible staff to work from home should the haze deteriorate further," he said.

Several big firms told The Straits Times that they have already allowed employees, especially those with heart, respiratory or skin conditions, or who are pregnant, to work from home.

OCBC Bank has also extended the option to parents whose children's childcare centres have closed.

Other firms have allowed staff to telecommute. Law firm Latham & Watkins, for one, is reimbursing employee cab fares and has asked its lawyers to work from home as much as possible.

For those who must work in the office, masks and air filters were the order of the day.

Several companies, including DBS Bank and ANZ Bank, have begun installing carbon filters and adding air purifiers at offices and branches.

Standard Chartered Bank is leaving its air-conditioners and air filters on around the clock.

These firms, as well as others including Hong Leong Finance, Citi Singapore, CapitaLand and Keppel Corp, have begun issuing masks to staff.

The Public Service Division has advised government ministries, departments and statutory boards to make adjustments to work arrangements and install air-cleaning devices.

Kaya manufacturer Fong Kit Kaya moved to get all 20 employees indoors.

"Jobs such as packaging and labelling are usually done in the open air, but we have moved the work to air-conditioned rooms," said marketing and research manager Goh May San.

Aik Moh Paints & Chemicals halted all outdoor activities.

Entrepreneur Pat Law began compiling a list on Facebook of companies allowing employees to work from home and by yesterday evening, it had more than 100, including her own branding consultancy Goodstuph.

Others on the list included multinational firms such as Dell and Nike.

The list also said restaurants such as Fabrika and Lucas Deli at Klapsons Hotel, rooftop bar Loof and Cajun Kings had decided not to open for business.


Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.

For more haze updates from AsiaOne, click here:

Purchase this article for republication.