Coronavirus pandemic

Transfers of migrant workers to other employers allowed

Migrant workers could be transferred to another employer via a system to help preserve their jobs, if their company can no longer keep them on due to the economic fallout from Covid-19.

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said yesterday that the system, an existing scheme the Ministry of Manpower and Singapore Business Federation have temporarily expanded during the crisis, allows employers with excess foreign workers to reach out to other employers who need manpower.

They can then try to work out an arrangement for the workers to be transferred.

This system has been extended to cover migrant workers of all nationalities, she said at a virtual media conference.

"We have also adapted our rules to enable transfer of workers to other sectors, because you can imagine that if an employer in one sector is not able to sustain business, it is quite possible that other employers are also not able to sustain," she said.

Mrs Teo, who was responding to a question about maintaining job security for migrant workers, said the Government has also tried to lighten employers' burden during the circuit breaker period by waiving foreign worker levies.

"We also provided the employers with rebates on their foreign worker levies, and this is to enable the employers to continue to fulfil their obligations to their workers during this period," she added.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat told Parliament last week that businesses which are not allowed to resume operations on-site immediately after the end of the circuit breaker on June 1 will have the foreign worker levy waived for up to two more months.

Levy rebates will also be extended for these companies for up to two more months.

Mrs Teo said: "There will, however, come a time where, between the employer and the workers, they will have to assess the viability of continuing to have the workers stay in Singapore if work cannot resume."

If workers wish to leave Singapore, the Government will try to facilitate this too, she said.

"We will continue to work with the foreign missions in Singapore and engage our counterparts in the home countries of these workers to try our best to (help) the workers who wish to return home," she said.

Olivia Ho