Information is continuing to emerge on COVID-19 and the resulting legislative changes being instituted in Singapore. We have compiled a list of important updates for employers in Singapore to be aware of. Our teams are closely monitoring the situation and will continue to provide the latest updates to keep you informed.
COVID-19 Updates - Singapore
Last Updated – March 30, 2020
The Singapore government has allocated nearly $55 billion to respond to COVID-19. This includes a $48 billion Resilience Budget and $6.4 billion in the Unity Budget committed towards the Stabilization and Support Package (SSP), the Care and Support Package, and to support our frontline agencies.
Employers will have access to significant wage offsets to ease business costs. Under the enhanced and extended Jobs Support Scheme, the government will co-fund 25% of the gross monthly wages of each local employee. Maximum monthly wage is equal to $4,600. Employers in the food services sector will receive higher support, at 50% of wages, and firms in the aviation and tourism sectors, will receive support for 75% of wages.
Flexible Work Schedules
Employers have been advised to adopt flexible work schedules. Employers can reduce weekly working hours of their employees without adjusting wages by creating a “timebank” of unused working hours. These banked hours can then be used to offset the increase in working hours in subsequent periods.
Employers must ensure that any foreign employees entering the country have a residence suitable to complete the 14-day self-quarantine mandated in the Stay-Home Notice (SHN). Employees arriving from the US or UK must serve their 14-day quarantine at a designated government facility. Employer must provide transport for employees that can take them to their place or residence. Employees residing in private residences require written consent of the landlord to be permitted to stay. Employers must provide hotel or housing accommodations to any employee that does not receive consent to stay from their landlord.
Employers are responsible for supplying employees with food and provisions during quarantine, unless that employee is residing in a government facility. For communication, employers must ensure that all employees have a Singapore phone number, as well as a WhatsApp, so that they can receive communications from the Ministry of Manpower.
Employer must ensure all employees undergo Stay-Home Notice process. If an employer allows an employee to attend work during the SHN period, the employer faces significant non-compliance penalties. The penalties may include a fine between 10,000 SGD and 20,000 SGD and/or six to twelve months in prison.
Work From Home
Employers can request that employees continue to attend work. Employees considered high risk, or those following Stay-Home Notice (SHN) policies, are exempt and have grounds to refuse coming to work. The government of Singapore has strongly urged employers to allow employees to work from home. Employees unable to work from home can come to an agreement with their employer to either take their annual leave or to go on unpaid leave. Employers have the right to pursue disciplinary action if an employee is not high risk, or abiding by SHN, and is refusing to work.
Suspension of Work
Employees who have been instructed suspend their work by their employer, but are otherwise able and willing will receive their usual pay and benefits. Exceptions to this exist if the employee has contractually agreed to go on unpaid leave.