Coronavirus: Employers who send healthy workers to hospitals for Covid-19 test may get work pass privileges suspended, warns MOM

National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) staff in Clinic J at NCID on Feb 14, 2020.
National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) staff in Clinic J at NCID on Feb 14, 2020.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - Do not send employees to hospitals unless there is a medical emergency, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has warned employers, after hospitals reported that employers were dropping off workers to have them tested for the coronavirus.

"Employers who act irresponsibly by misusing medical facilities may have their work pass privileges suspended," it added.

In a message sent to employers seen by The Straits Times on Wednesday (Feb 19), Mr Kevin Teoh, divisional director of MOM's foreign manpower management division, said the ministry had been getting feedback from hospitals that employers were sending their workers to be tested for Covid-19, as the disease is now known.

ST has contacted the Health Ministry for more information on the extent of such behaviour.

Mr Teoh reminded employers that hospitals will not test individuals who are well.

"This is to ensure that medical facilities and resources are focused on unwell individuals who need medical treatment," he said.

A worker who is unwell should be sent to a general practitioner, who will then assess if the worker needs to be taken to hospital.

"Our hospitals are working hard to ensure that medical emergencies are handled promptly," said Mr Teoh.

"We encourage you to be socially responsible and only send workers to the hospital if it is a medical emergency, as doing so otherwise will deny immediate treatment to those who need it."

 

He added that employers should monitor the health of their workers by checking their temperature twice daily and reminding them to observe good personal hygiene, such as washing their hands with soap frequently. 

MOM has been taking employers and workers to task for not following rules restricting workers’  entry and movements when returning from China.

For example, it revoked the work passes of two workers and suspended their employers’ work pass privileges on Thursday (Feb 13) for breaching entry approval requirements.

On Feb 9, it repatriated four work pass holders and suspended six employers for not complying with Leave of Absence rules.

On Monday, the Government introduced the Stay-Home Notice scheme which requires all who return from China not to leave their homes for 14 days.

MOM said the scheme also applies to all work pass holders with recent travel history to mainland China.

This is stricter than the previous Leave of Absence scheme, where people could still leave their residence briefly for food and other necessities.