Employers to get Govt support with housing workers on LOA
Under new measures, those flouting leave of absence rules will face penalties
Singapore has announced plans to further tighten measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Yesterday, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force on the coronavirus, and Manpower Minister Josephine Teo announced that a 14-day leave of absence (LOA) will be mandatory for all workers due to return from China.
Their employers will have to get in touch with the Ministry of Manpower before they return, a move that will allow the authorities to help stagger their return if needed, and to arrange for accommodation if they face issues.
Both ministers were visiting Tuas View Dormitory, which has prepared an isolation room and facilities for those on LOA.
"The situation is evolving so rapidly and... we have seen the risk levels increasing generally across the board," said Mr Wong, who added there will also be tighter monitoring and enforcement of the LOA.
Employers will get $100 a day for each worker on LOA - similar to the quantum for those on quarantine - applicable to both Singapore residents and foreign workers. It can also be claimed by those who are self-employed. The foreign worker levy for those on LOA will be waived for that period.
The Government will work with dormitory operators to provide facilities if employers cannot find suitable accommodation for their workers.
Details of how the new LOA requirements will be enforced are still being worked out, but Mr Wong said they will be similar to that of home quarantine orders.
Unlike quarantined persons, however, those on LOA can leave home to briefly attend to matters but should return as soon as possible.
Mr Wong said there are already strict surveillance measures in place for home quarantine which can be used to ensure compliance with the new LOA measures. These include phone calls, video calls and even home visits to make sure the LOA, a precautionary measure to prevent the possible transmission of infections, is observed.
Firms and workers who do not observe the mandated LOA period face penalties such as the revoking of work permit privileges, he said, adding that various agencies were working on the details.
Previously, residents and long-term pass holders were only advised to take the 14 days' LOA upon returning from China.
Those under the LOA should stay at home, minimise contact with others and monitor their health closely .
Last Sunday, Mrs Teo said 30,000 work pass holders who are Chinese nationals left Singapore over the Chinese New Year break and have not returned. Yesterday, she said the majority were still out of Singapore due to flight and travel restrictions.
The government measures announced yesterday were given the thumbs up by companies, who said it will help pay for the cost of ensuring their employees do not break the rules.
Mr Vincent Tan, managing director of food service provider Select Group, which will have at least 10 workers on LOA, said: "As they are in front-line roles, such as kitchen crew and service staff, they can't work from home and we have to hire workers temporarily. The $100 allowance can help offset the costs."
Trilogy Technologies' Ms Soong, who declined to give her full name, was pleased with the Government's plan to provide alternative accommodation for workers unable to find a place to stay.
"The $100 will also help to cover some of the accommodation cost we have incurred," said the human resource and purchasing executive of the electronics engineering company. - ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY YUEN SIN