Coronavirus: Work pass holders with recent China travel history must have MOM approval before returning to Singapore

Passengers arriving at Changi Airport Terminal 3 from a Hangzhou flight going past a thermal scanner on Jan 22, 2020.
Passengers arriving at Changi Airport Terminal 3 from a Hangzhou flight going past a thermal scanner on Jan 22, 2020.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - All current work pass holders with travel history to mainland China within the last 14 days will now have to be approved by the Manpower Ministry (MOM) before they can return to Singapore.

The new rule applies to all such workers regardless of nationality who plan to enter Singapore after 11.59pm on Saturday (Feb 8). It also applies to in-principle approval (IPA) holders who have not entered Singapore yet, as well as individuals holding dependant's or long term visit passes issued by MOM.

This comes after Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said on Thursday that most of the 30,000 China nationals holding work passes who left for the Chinese New Year break have not yet returned to Singapore.

In a statement on Friday, MOM said that employers should inform their employees not to make travel plans to Singapore until they have received approval from MOM.

Employers can apply for permission three days before the intended arrival date of the work pass holders, at the following online form.

In doing so, employers are required to declare to the ministry that they have arranged for suitable premises to house returning employees for the duration of the mandatory 14-day leave of absence (LOA). Those on LOA are allowed to leave their homes for daily necessities or urgent matters but should minimise time spent in public places and contact with others.

The declaration must either include a confirmation by a landlord to house the worker for the LOA period or show that the employer has booked a hotel room or secured a dormitory room.

A letter of approval from MOM will be given to employers to pass on to their employees, who must show it to airline staff upon check-in, and at the immigration checkpoint upon arrival to gain entry into Singapore.

MOM warned that it would not hesitate to take action against employers or workers who do not comply with the new requirements.

 
 
 

This could include the revocation of work passes and the withdrawal of work pass privileges.

In response to questions about the cost of accommodating workers on LOA, MOM said: "Employers remain responsible for the upkeep and accommodation of their foreign employees under Employment of Foreign Manpower Act."

Employers who need help to get accommodation for their employees can contact 1800-333-9999 or mom_qops@mom.gov.sg.

Members of public can report those who flout LOA requirements to the same e-mail address, or call 6438-5122.

Friday's advisory comes after the government said on Thursday that it would work with dormitory operators to provide facilities if employers cannot find accommodation for returning workers, and would be stepping up monitoring and enforcement on those serving the mandatory LOA.

A $100 per day for each worker on LOA for employers was also announced the same day, equivalent to existing support for quarantine orders. The sum also applies to those self-employed.