SINGAPORE: It will be mandatory for all workers returning from mainland China to be placed on a 14-day Leave of Absence (LOA) as Singapore steps up measures to contain the coronavirus situation, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said on Thursday (Feb 6).
Employers must notify the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) before their employees return so that the Government can “stagger the return of these workers and manage the flow better”, added Mr Wong.
Employers will be given S$100 a day for each worker who is placed on a Leave of Absence (LOA). This will be applicable to employees who are Singaporean, permanent residents or workpass holders.
Mr Wong said on Thursday the foreign worker levy will also be waived during the employee’s period of absence from work.
“The businesses are equally affected (and) projects are being delayed,” he said on the sidelines of a visit to a foreign worker’s dormitory at Tuas. “So we've heard the concerns of employers.”
Employers who face difficulties finding accommodation for their workers to serve out their LOA can approach MOM for help, Mr Wong added.
They will be able to stay at foreign worker dormitories, which have isolation and quarantine rooms available.
This comes after reports that several landlords have been evicting tenants who have returned from China.
But so far, there are few employers who have been unable to find a place for their workers, Mr Wong said.
He assured there would be sufficient capacity for individuals who have to serve out their LOA.
“Already with the commercial flights being throttled back the flow returning will be slowed down,” he said.
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, who was also at the site visit, said that the authorities will be stepping up on enforcement measures to make sure both employers and employees stick to LOA and quarantine guidelines.
When asked what these enforcement actions are, Mr Wong said that they will use surveillance measures such as video calls and spot checks, which are already in place to check on those under home quarantine.
Government agencies are working out the penalties for those who fail to follow through on their quarantine or LOA, he added. For example, the company’s work permit privileges could be curtailed, he said.
TS Group, which operates the foreign worker dormitory Tuas View Dormitory, has converted the facility’s cinema into a 32-bedder isolation room for those under LOA.
It has also converted 50 rooms into quarantine rooms that have two beds each.
Currently, Tuas View Dormitory has about 12,000 residents, of which less than 10 per cent are Chinese nationals, the company’s CEO Shamkumar Subramani said. About 100 are scheduled to return from China.
TS Group, Mr Shamkumar said, is prepared to expand its isolation facilities. It could convert its multi-purpose rooms or gym into spaces for residents under LOA, for instance.