28 July 2020
On 9 July 2020, the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”) updated a previous advisory for employers and employees travelling to and from Covid-19 affected areas (“Advisory”). The Ministry of Health (“MOH”) had issued the Advisory on 18 March 2020 advising the public to defer all travel abroad, considering the evolving Covid-19 situation with heightened risk of further importation of Covid-19 to Singapore.
The Advisory states that employers and employees should continue to be vigilant and adopt the following precautions where relevant:
- Defer all work-related travel plans and regularly check the MOH website for the latest updates on the Covid-19 situation;
- Remind employees of MOH’s travel advisory to defer all travel abroad and inform employees of the employers’ human resources (HR) policies on the treatment of employees who travel abroad during this period, whether
work-related or non-work related; and
- Obtain a health and travel declaration from their employees on whether they have travelled overseas recently or if they have any upcoming overseas travel plans,
Requirement to serve Stay-Home Notice
To limit the potential risk of Covid-19 spread by employees (Singaporeans, Permanent Residents, Long-term Visit Pass Holders) arriving in Singapore, all employees arriving in Singapore from any country after 20 March 2020 are required to serve a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (“SHN”) at dedicated facilities unless otherwise indicated in MOH’s Advisory.
Employees on SHN must remain in their residences or at dedicated facilities at all times during the 14-day period and should not leave even if it is to purchase food and essentials. Employees should also monitor their health (i.e. for fever 38 degree Celsius or higher and respiratory symptoms such as cough or breathlessness), seek prompt medical attention when necessary and observe good personal hygiene.
Actions to be taken by employers to bring pass holders (work pass holders and their dependants) from overseas into Singapore
With the resumption of activities in phases post-circuit breaker, certain work pass requirements have been put in place from 2 June 2020. All pass holders must obtain MOM’s entry approval before they can enter Singapore and serve a 14-day SHN upon entry. However, those conveying essential services or supplies (e.g. lorry drivers, vegetable or frozen supply truckers) coming from Malaysia by land or sea crossing are exempted from the entry approval and SHN requirements.
To bring pass holders into Singapore, the advisory provides that employers must:
- Ensure the employer can fulfil the additional responsibilities to bring them in. This includes paying for their Covid-19 test and 14-day stay at the dedicated SHN facility, if applicable. If the work pass holders have dependants who are not issued any work passes, including Letters of Consent (“LOC”), the work pass holders must fulfil their responsibilities towards their dependants.
- Request for MOM’s entry approval before the pass holders can enter Singapore.
The following table from the MOM Advisory summarises the responsibilities in relation to requesting MOM’s entry approval and ensuring SHN is observed.
For new or existing
Who needs to request for MOM’s entry approval
Who is responsible to ensure SHN is observed
Work pass holders, including those with LOC*
Employer and work pass holder
Dependant’s Pass (“DP”) or Long Term Visit Pass (“LTVP”) holders who are not employed i.e. not issued a work pass, including LOC
Local sponsor i.e. Employer of Employment Pass (“EP”) / S Pass holder
EP / S Pass holder and DP / LTVP holder
*Those with LTVPs issued by the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (“ICA”) need to request for ICA’s entry approval even if they have LOCs issued by MOM.
The Advisory cautions employers to wait for MOM’s approval before confirming flights and arranging for pass holders to start their journey to Singapore. The Advisory provides a link to the MOM entry approval calculator which assists employers to plan when requests should be submitted. Requests received from 12:01pm on a day to 12:00pm the next day are for arrivals within 30 days after the next day, e.g. if a pass holder is arriving in Singapore on 1 August 2020, the entry approval request can be submitted from 12:01 pm, 1 July 2020 to 12:00pm, 31 July 2020.
The Advisory states that the outcome of requests submitted by 12:00pm will be issued on the same day and the outcome for requests submitted after 12:00pm will be issued on the next day.
For In-Principle Approval (“IPA”) holders, their 14-day SHN must be completed before employers can get their passes issued. The following table gives an overview of the actions that should be taken if an employee’s short-term visit pass is expiring within two weeks.
EP, S Pass, DP or LTVP
If their Short-Term Visit Passes (“STVPs”) are expiring within two weeks
An extension of the STVP should be requested.
MOM will automatically extend the validities of their STVPs and IPAs by two weeks. No letters will be issued for this extension.
Medical benefits and others
Employees who are certified by a medical doctor to be unwell should use their paid sick leave to stay at home. They should be socially responsible and not attend gatherings and events. If an affected employee has used up his medical benefits provided for under the employment contract and/or collective agreement due to Covid-19, the Advisory states that employers should consider providing medical coverage as the employees concerned may face financial hardship during this time.
The Advisory further provides that employers should consider, among other options, allowing employees to work from home, to apply for annual leave, to used advanced paid leave or apply for no pay leave for employees who have used up their leave entitlements if their employees need to stay at home for other reasons relating to the Covid-19 situation, e.g. to take care of family members who have travelled to known affected areas or take care of children who are unable to report to school or childcare.
MOM urges employers to be flexible and supportive of their employees’ needs during this period and encourages employees to cooperate with their employers. The Advisory strongly encourages both employers and employees to take precautionary steps according to advisories issued by MOH.
The Advisory also provides an overview on what quarantine, Leave of Absence and SHN entails.