SINGAPORE: About 30,000 work pass holders of Chinese nationality are currently out of town and when they return, they may have to take a leave of absence from their jobs.
The number is less than one per cent of Singapore's workforce, according to the Manpower Ministry but it will affect some sectors more than others.
The absences are likely to cause a small impact on individual companies, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said on Sunday (Feb 2), adding that her ministry is monitoring the situation.
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"Our best estimate is that at the present moment, there are about 30,000 workpass holders of PRC nationality who have left Singapore but have not returned." Mrs Teo told reporters on a visit to the Oasia Hotel Downtown with Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing.
These workers make up less than 1 per cent of Singapore's workforce, she said.
"Of course that does not include Singaporeans who may also have a travel history, including China, and who upon return may be affected by the requirement to go on a leave of absence," she added.
Manufacturing is more affected than services and construction, Mrs Teo said.
"In our interactions with the trade associations and chambers ... our understanding is that most companies are talking about one or two, fairly small numbers, manageable at the company level.
"But at the sector level, there could be some impact too, so we're working closely with these associations, and if there's a need to help them, we will certainly do so."
Meanwhile, she says frontline staff may also be unsure on how to serve customers who are unwell during this period of time.
She says the Singapore National Employers Federation and Singapore Business Federation will be sending out guidances on what employees can do when they encounter those who are unwell.