SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has rejected about 400 applications to re-enter Singapore from work pass holders with travel history to China each day since a new rule aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19 started, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said on Friday (Feb 14).
From the beginning of this week, employers have had to get approval from the ministry before work pass holders who have recently been in mainland China can start their journey to Singapore.
"In the first week of implementation, we approved about 200 applications daily for planned arrivals. During the same period, we rejected about 400 applications daily," Mrs Teo said in an update on Facebook.
"The two key reasons for rejecting the applications are the need to stagger workers’ return to Singapore, and employers not being able to arrange for accommodation for returning workers to comply with Leave of Absence."
MOM has prioritised applicants in essential operations such as healthcare, transport and waste management, she added.
MOM has censured several employers and six work pass holders for flouting the re-entry restrictions thus far.
Four work pass holders who were caught working although they were supposed to have taken a Leave of Absence and two who entered Singapore without prior approval have had their work passes revoked and are now banned from working here.
The employers have had their work pass privileges suspended.
READ: Manpower ministry revokes 4 work passes for Leave of Absence breaches, suspends employer privileges
Mrs Teo appealed to employers for their understanding on the need for the measure.
"Many employers provided feedback to my colleagues and I on the rejections. I can certainly understand their anxiety ... Many employers are already helping by postponing their employees’ return," she said.
"During this period, my colleagues and I will try our best to address the concerns of employers and workers."
MOM will help employers link up with hotel or dorm operators where the LOA can be served out, and it had also announced it will give S$100 in daily support for employers whose employees are on LOA.
"To be fair to the employees, we also encourage employers to treat the LOA as paid leave," she said.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat will announce more help in the Budget statement to be delivered on Feb 18, she said.
Mrs Teo had said on Feb 2 that about 30,000 Chinese work pass holders had not returned after leaving Singapore.