Coronavirus: Do not force staff to take leave for stay-home notice or LOA, MOM warns employers

Employers may be similarly penalised if they ask workers who did not go to mainland China to take no-pay leave. PHOTO: BT FILE

SINGAPORE - Employers who force their staff to take leave for the mandatory 14-day stay-home notice or leave of absence (LOA) could have their work pass privileges suspended, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Friday (Feb 21).

They may be similarly penalised if they ask workers who did not go to mainland China - and thus do not need to serve the 14-day periods - to take no-pay leave, a ministry spokesman said in response to queries.

This comes after readers reported such behaviour by employers to The Straits Times.

The spokesman said MOM expects employers to be reasonable and adopt fair employment practices.

"Employees who have encountered such cases should report the matter to MOM for further action," he said.

The new stay-home notices, which took effect at 11.59pm on Tuesday (Feb 18), are issued to all Singapore residents and long-term pass holders with travel history to China in the last 14 days. This excludes people travelling from Hubei, who are instead quarantined.

Those under the notice cannot leave their homes for 14 days, which is stricter than the LOA, where people could briefly leave for necessities. LOAs are no longer issued, though those already on LOA will still have to serve them out fully.

Singapore National Employers Federation executive director Koh Juan Kiat said no-pay leave should only be offered with the consent of the employee.

"We encourage employers to discuss the various options with their employees to work out practical solutions to ride through these difficult times," he told ST, adding that employers who need help can contact the federation.

The MOM spokesman added that employees who do not have recent travel history to mainland China should not be asked to stay away from the workplace.

If employers still wish to implement LOA for such employees, full salaries should be paid for the period of the LOA, he added.

Employers are also encouraged to adopt arrangements to allow those on the official LOA or stay-home notice to work from home, such as telecommuting or teleconferencing.

If this is not possible, employers should provide additional paid leave for the LOA or stay-home period.

Financial help for providing such leave is available to eligible employers under the LOA support programme, said the MOM spokesman.

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