COVID-19: MOM extends work pass holder entry approval requirements

The Ministry of Manpower building. (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

SINGAPORE — From Monday (16 March), all work pass holders (including dependants) with travel history to ASEAN countries, Japan, Switzerland or the United Kingdom, and who are planning to enter or return to Singapore, will have to obtain approval from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) before their journeys.

In a media release on Sunday, the MOM said that this is required regardless of the nationality of the work pass holder. It is implemented in view of the rapid spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus across the world, and reduces the risk of importation of the virus to Singapore.

The entry approval requirement applies to both existing work pass holders currently out of Singapore, and in-principle approval holders who have yet to enter Singapore.

Mandatory 14-day Stay-Home Notice

Upon arrival in Singapore, all affected work pass holders will be placed on a mandatory 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN). When applying for entry approval, employers will be required to declare to MOM that they have arranged for suitable premises to house these entering/returning employees for the duration of their SHN.

Employers should inform their affected employees (including their dependants) not to make travel plans to Singapore until approval has been received from MOM. They will be required to send the MOM approval letter to the employees, who will need to show it to the airline staff upon check-in and at the immigration checkpoint upon arrival in Singapore.

The entry approval requirement for work pass holders (including dependants) with travel history to mainland China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, France, Spain and Germany within the last 14 days, remains unchanged.

Support from employers during SHN

Work pass holders who have been put on a SHN cannot leave their places of residence. They should monitor their health closely and seek medical attention immediately if they develop any fever or symptoms of acute respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath.

Work pass holders on SHN can make their own arrangements to procure their daily necessities, such as meals and daily essentials. Employers are responsible to ensure that their work pass holders on SHN can obtain meals and other daily essentials.

If support from employers is not forthcoming, work pass holders should report their difficulties to MOM. The ministry will take enforcement measures against errant employers or employees who do not comply with the requirements set out above, including the revocation of work passes and withdrawal of work pass privileges.

Support programme extended to businesses

MOM has extended the Leave of Absence Support Programme to businesses and self-employed persons affected by the SHN requirements due to COVID-19 pandemic since 18 February.

Under the support programme, eligible employers will be able to apply for $100 daily per affected worker for the required duration of SHN. Affected workers include Singaporeans, permanent residents and work pass holders who were placed on SHN upon their return to Singapore. Eligible employers will also qualify for levy waiver for affected foreign workers for the SHN period.

Businesses and self-employed Singaporeans or PRs will be eligible for the programme if work was not performed remotely by affected persons or workers on SHN, and if they were placed on LOA or SHN upon their return to Singapore after:

  • Travelling to mainland China on or before 31 January; or

  • Travelling to Daegu city or Cheongdo county in South Korea on or before 26 February; or

  • Travelling to South Korea, Northern Italy or Iran before 4 March; or

  • Travelling to Italy, Spain, France or Germany on or before 15 March; or

  • Traveling to ASEAN countries, Japan, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom on or before 16 March.

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, there may be additional requirements imposed on work pass holders from time to time. Employers and employees are strongly advised to check the MOM’s website for the latest advisories.

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