SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Manpower has urged companies to impose a leave of absence (LOA) on employees who returned from overseas between March 14 and 20, before a mandatory stay-home requirement for all those entering Singapore kicks in.
Employers who place their staff on this voluntary LOA will be able to claim daily support under a programme by the MOM aimed at alleviating the companies' financial burden during the Covid-19 outbreak.
This initiative follows recent, stricter measures imposed by schools to curb the spread of the coronavirus, after more infections and a surge in imported cases were recorded in Singapore.
All students and staff who returned from overseas between last Saturday (March 14) and this Friday will be put on a mandatory 14-day leave of absence from the date of return.
From 11.59pm on Friday, all arriving travellers, including Singaporeans, will face even more stringent measures and will be issued a 14-day stay-home notice.
This means they will not be able to leave their homes for 14 days.
In encouraging companies to voluntarily impose the LOA on Friday, the MOM said: "The Government recognises that many parents have been affected by this national measure due to the need to provide care for their children during this period.
"At the same time, it is a useful precautionary measure for people who have travelled recently to stay away from the workplace to prevent further transmission."
The MOM said companies should adopt flexible work arrangements to allow these employees to work from home during that whole 14-day period.
It noted that some companies had already voluntarily asked employees to stay home after returning from trips overseas between last Saturday and Friday.
Such companies should continue with existing flexible work and leave arrangements, including asking their employees to use their annual leave to cover the company imposed LOA, said the MOM.
However, for those companies that have not put such measures in place, "employers are encouraged to provide additional paid leave to the employees, if work from home is not feasible", considering that the LOA option was not known before their employees travelled.
To help these companies, the MOM will allow them to apply for the $100 daily support under the LOA support programme, which covers only employees who are Singaporeans, permanent residents or work pass holders.
Companies can also claim a levy waiver for their affected work pass holders.
Those who are self-employed and who have to put themselves on LOA will similarly be allowed to claim this daily support.
Eligible employers will be able to apply for daily support for each affected employee after their LOA is completed.
However, employers, self-employed Singaporeans and permanent residents will not be able to claim under the support programme if they worked remotely during the LOA period or if the affected employee had to use his or her own annual leave, childcare leave or any other kind of leave to cover the LOA.
Additionally, those who have been placed on stay-home notice upon returning to Singapore and whose travel was not between March 14 to 20 are not eligible for daily support under this programme.
Said the MOM: "As the Covid-19 situation continues to evolve, there may be additional requirements imposed on work pass holders from time to time."
It urged employers and employees to check the MOM website for the latest advisories.