Work pass privileges of 2 employers suspended after failing to arrange COVID-19 testing for workers

Work pass privileges of 2 employers suspended after failing to arrange COVID-19 testing for workers

singapore foreign worker dorm covid-19 testing Avery Lodge (4)
Onsite medical facilities for workers at foreign worker dormitory Avery Lodge. (Photo: Singapore Ministry of Manpower)

SINGAPORE: The Manpower Ministry (MOM) has suspended the work pass privileges of two employers after they failed to arrange for their workers to undergo mandatory rostered routine testing for COVID-19.

Action was taken after the employers did not provide valid reasons or submit an exemption request for their workers, according to a joint press release by MOM, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), the Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Health Promotion Board (HPB) on Friday (Oct 16).

"As these employers have been errant, they will no longer be able to continue employing the two work pass holders," the authorities said.

"The affected workers have been given a grace period to look for alternative employment as they were not complicit with the breach of requirements," the authorities added.

This is the first time that employers have been penalised for failing to comply with the rostered routine testing requirements, which are aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.

READ: COVID-19 - More than 450,000 contact-tracing devices to be distributed to migrant and local workers

READ: MOM introduces more targeted COVID-19 quarantine approach for foreign worker dormitories

Workers staying in dormitories, those in the construction, marine and process sectors, and all who go into work sites are required to undergo rostered routine testing for the virus every 14 days.

Since August, the authorities had made several callouts to employers, reminding them to send their workers for testing before the Sep 5 deadline.

MORE THAN 2,000 YET TO BE TESTED

The vast majority of about 260,000 workers have undergone or have been scheduled for rostered routine testing, authorities said on Friday.

However, about 2,200 workers who are required to undergo testing have yet to do so.

"These include workers who missed their subsequent rostered routine testing appointments, and workers who are newly-identified to require rostered routine testing because they enter work sites," the authorities said.

READ: 'Multi-layered' strategy in place to detect, contain new COVID-19 cases in migrant worker dormitories: MOM

The AccessCode status for these workers will remain "red" and they cannot return to work.

About half of them have been scheduled for the testing and will be able to resume work once they have been tested, the authorities added.

READ: How MOM’s new ACE Group intends to fight COVID-19 infections at previously cleared dormitories

Efforts to support employers included the Swab Registration System and ramping up swab facilities to ensure sufficient appointment slots and increase convenience and accessibility for employers and workers, the authorities said.

Earlier this month, MOM and HPB announced that more COVID-19 regional screening centres and testing facilities in dormitories would be set up to facilitate the rostered routine testing.

Four facilities - Acacia Lodge, Cassia @ Penjuru, Central Staff Apartments and Westlite Mandai - would also offer night swabs for workers to "accommodate their work cycles", the authorities said last week.

"MOM will continue to take action against errant employers or workers who persistently fail to schedule or attend their rostered routine testing sessions without valid reasons, including the revocation of work passes and suspension of work pass privileges," the authorities said on Friday.

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Source: CNA/dv(ta)

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