Coronavirus: MOM to allow foreign worker transfers between sectors to help firms with manpower needs

The interim measures are to give companies in all sectors greater flexibility in managing their manpower needs.
The interim measures are to give companies in all sectors greater flexibility in managing their manpower needs.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Work-permit holders of any nationality will be able to take jobs in other sectors from Wednesday, as long as their current employers agree to the switch, the Manpower Ministry (MOM) said on Wednesday (April 1).

The ministry will also allow companies to hire work-permit holders from any sector, as long as their permits expire in 40 days. Employers do not have to approve such moves.

The interim measures are to give companies in all sectors greater flexibility in managing their manpower needs amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the ministry said in a statement.

"With prior approvals for work-pass holders to enter Singapore being restricted to a very small number to reduce to risk of importation, MOM will be expanding the temporary scheme to help more firms hire workers who are already in Singapore," it added.

The measures will be in place for five months, until Aug 31, although the ministry said it could extend the arrangement if need be.

The ministry had previously said that companies in the manufacturing and service sectors can hire existing Chinese work-permit holders from companies that want to release them, under a six-month scheme.

As of Monday (March 30), this partnership between MOM and the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) has seen a total of 280 Chinese work-permit holders hired by 490 companies in these sectors.

Current rules allow transfers only within sectors.

But the expanded scheme - which allows such transfers across sectors regardless of the worker's nationality - lets companies facing a shortage of manpower to tap a bigger pool of experienced work permit holders.

 
 

It also saves on search and recruitment costs, MOM said. In addition, firms with excess manpower can transfer these workers to other companies more quickly, allowing work permit holders to continue working in Singapore and saving on repatriation costs.

Hiring firms have to meet the prevailing criteria under their respective sectors, the ministry added.

Companies that wish to hire workers from other sectors can e-mail SBF at manpowerconnect@sbf.org.sg or visit the SBF website.

Those who wish to hire workers whose work permits are expiring in 40 days can submit their requests via an online form or visit MOM's website for more information.