Mr Leon Perera asked the Minister for Manpower (a) whether the Government will consider prohibiting employers from requiring retail staff to stand for prolonged periods when standing is not necessary; (b) whether the Government works with employers to implement rest times and seats for workers who have to stand for prolonged periods; and (c) whether the Government collects data on (i) the number of retail staff who have to stand for prolonged periods a day and (ii) the health risks faced by these workers.
Dr Tan See Leng: For the first two parts of the question, I would like to refer the Member to the answer MOM provided to a similar question raised by Mr Don Wee in an earlier sitting. We encourage retailers to provide adequate rest and welfare for their frontline staff. It is only right that employers do their best to create a conducive work environment, as staff will be more motivated and engaged as a result. However, excessive and overly prescriptive regulations laying out in detail how staff are to be deployed will impose rigidity in the sector, as retail outlets have a large variety of settings in how they serve customers.
For the third part of the question, MOM does not collect data of the type described. The occupational health experts are of the view that a person who stands for a prolonged period on a regular basis may experience effects like swollen feet. This can be made worse when the person’s movement is severely restricted, for example within a very limited radius (of less than half a metre). Retail staff do move within the shop premises, and they also have opportunities to take short breaks or stretches whilst at work. This would reduce the risk from prolonged standing at work.
Ministry of Manpower
11 January 2022