THE civil service will grant time off, where possible, to employees affected by the SARS outbreak.
With more than 800 people quarantined at home and almost 600,000 children kept out of school until April 7, the Public Service Division urged all ministries to offer flexible working arrangements to help employees cope.
Aside from taking annual leave, civil servants would be allowed a few hours or days off or to work from home, where possible. Some organisations saw a handful of employees taking urgent leave to take care of children.
Following the lead of the civil service, which employs 60,000, the Singapore National Employers Federation asked private sector employers to be flexible and compassionate in dealing with employees on medical leave because of the quarantine or those who need help coping with child care arrangements.
At least 12 private companies told The Straits Times they were doing so. Others were allowing flexible work arrangements, including work from home. But not all companies can afford to allow time off, or even leave at short notice, especially if staff strength is lean.
While some parents took urgent leave to look after children, at least two mothers took theirs to work. But not everyone was as lucky. Secretary P.F. Lee, 31, works at a construction site so taking a child to work was not ideal.
Day One of the no-school order saw some parents scrambling to make alternative childcare arrangements.
Almost 300 parents called the Ministry of Community Development and Sports hotline on Thursday, with most asking when the pre-schools would open again. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network