SINGAPORE: New measures are being put in place to help ease the manpower challenges in the construction, marine shipyard and process sectors, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Saturday (Oct 30).
Currently, prospective employers can hire work permit holders without the original employer’s consent between 21 and 40 days before the worker's permit expires.
Going forward, migrant workers will remain in employment of the original employer until the expiry of their work permit, said the ministry.
Thereafter, they can extend their work permits for 30 days, subject to mutual agreement between the worker and his employer.
The work permit holder can use this time to look for another employer without the need for consent from the original employer.
At the same time, the employer also gets to retain the worker in employment for up to 30 days, said the ministry.
"Should there not be agreement from the worker or employer to extend the work permit by 30 days, the worker will be enrolled in the retention schemes and the industry associations will facilitate job-matching with a new employer within 30 days," said MOM.
This will be implemented first for the construction from Nov 8, followed by the marine shipyard and process sectors from a later date. The associations will share more details when ready, said MOM.
The ministry also said that a retention scheme for the construction sector will be extended to the shipyard and process sectors.
Last month, the Government and the Singapore Contractors Association Ltd (SCAL) started a retention scheme for experienced construction work permit holders whose previous employment has been terminated.
For such workers who wish to continue working in Singapore, SCAL will facilitate job-matching between them and employers who require additional manpower, as well as mediate to ensure a transparent and beneficial transfer process for both parties.
To date, 52 companies have benefitted from the scheme, said MOM, adding that this has helped moderate the outflow of workers in the construction sector amid the restricted inflow of new workers due to COVID-19 border controls.
The scheme will be in place until Feb 28 next year, subject to further review.
Going forward, MOM has partnered the Association of Singapore Marine Industries and Association of Process Industry to extend the retention scheme to the shipyard and process sectors, it said on Saturday. Details will be shared at a later date.
The Migrant Workers' Centre said in a Facebook post that it welcomes the new measures.
"The expansion of the (retention) scheme will allow more migrant workers who wish to continue working in Singapore to do so while easing labour shortages in the other sectors," said the Migrant Workers' Centre.