SINGAPORE: All employers and employment agencies planning for foreign domestic workers to enter Singapore must obtain the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) approval prior to the commencement of their journey.
Upon arrival in Singapore, all new or returning foreign domestic workers from any country will also be placed on a mandatory 14-day stay-home notice.
This new measure, taken in view of the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the world, will take effect from Monday (Mar 16) at 11.59pm, MOM said in a statement.
“The new measures take into consideration that foreign domestic workers live with families and many look after young children and the elderly,” MOM said.
Employers and employment agencies can apply for the entry approval online. Employers of direct-hire foreign domestic workers or employers of those returning from overseas may also engage the services of an employment agency to assist in the entry approval and stay-home notice arrangements.
All new incoming foreign domestic workers must serve their 14-day stay-home notice at an alternative accommodation, such as dormitories, hostels or hotels, before they can be deployed for employment.
For foreign domestic workers returning from overseas, their employers can arrange for them to serve the stay-home notice at the employer’s residence or at an alternative accommodation.
ENFORCEMENT ACTION IF REQUIREMENTS NOT COMPLIED WITH
MOM said the party applying for the entry approval will be responsible for ensuring that the foreign domestic worker complies with the stay-home notice.
They should ensure that the foreign domestic worker has access to a local mobile phone and remains contactable for compliance checks by MOM during the stay-home period.
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The applicant must also ensure proper housing and upkeep arrangements for the foreign domestic worker to serve the stay-home notice without leaving the accommodation. Employment agencies and employers can visit the MOM website or send an email if they require assistance regarding accommodation options.
“The party requesting for the entry approval should inform the foreign domestic workers not to make travel plans to Singapore until approval has been obtained. The employment agencies or employers will be required to send the MOM approval letter to the foreign domestic workers, who will need to show it to the airline staff during check-in and at the ICA checkpoint upon arrival in Singapore,” MOM said.
“Employment agencies, employers and their foreign domestic workers have a collective duty to ensure that the entry approval and the stay-home notice requirements are complied with.”
MOM said enforcement action, including revocation of work passes and suspension of work pass privileges, will be taken if the requirements are not complied with.
Demerit points will also be imposed on employment agencies whose actions result in violation of the requirements by the foreign domestic workers.
ASSISTANCE PACKAGE FOR AFFECTED EMPLOYERS
MOM will provide an assistance package to support employers who are Singapore citizens or permanent residents and affected by the new stay-home notice requirements.
Employers can apply for S$60 support daily per affected foreign domestic worker and have their levy waived during the stay-home notice period.
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Employers will be eligible for the assistance package if the foreign domestic worker’s work pass application is submitted to MOM on or before Mar 15, or if the foreign domestic worker has a valid work pass and left Singapore on or before Mar 15.
If the foreign domestic worker does not serve her stay-home notice at the employer's registered address, employers are still eligible for the assistance package.
Employers can apply for the assistance and levy waiver within 90 days after the foreign domestic worker has completed her stay-home notice. More details on the application process will be provided at a later date, MOM said.
MOM advised prospective employers to factor in the new requirements, including cost implications, in their hiring decisions. They should also consider renewing their existing foreign domestic worker’s contract or hire a transfer foreign domestic worker instead.
REST DAY ARRANGEMENTS, HOME LEAVE
In view of social distancing measures that were recently announced, MOM said it strongly encourages foreign domestic workers to spend their rest day at home during this period.
Employers should discuss this with their foreign domestic workers and reach a mutual agreement on rest day arrangements.
If the foreign domestic worker agrees to spend their rest day at home, employers should not assign work to them on the rest day. However, if the foreign domestic worker agrees to forgo their rest days, employers must provide compensation in lieu of the rest day.
If they have errands to attend to on their rest day, they should be encouraged to take their rest day on a weekday, when public spaces are less crowded, said the ministry. Employers should also encourage their foreign domestic workers not to gather in public areas.
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For foreign domestic workers who have plans to travel back home, MOM advised that employers discuss and come to a mutual agreement for them to postpone their home leave until the situation stabilises.
“Employers should inform their foreign domestic workers that based on current guidelines, they will be required to serve the stay-home notice upon their return to Singapore.
"Employers should also inform their foreign domestic workers that the employer may not be obligated to pay for accommodation costs should the foreign domestic workers serve the stay-home notice in an alternative accommodation upon their return,” said MOM.