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FAQs on temporary schemes to help businesses manage manpower disruption

Employers can use these temporary schemes to hire or transfer Work Permit holders already in Singapore.

Why is MOM introducing this temporary scheme for employers to hire existing Work Permit holders who are available for transfer?Show

Entry approvals for new work pass holders from overseas have been limited to a very small number to reduce the risk of importation of COVID-19 to Singapore. Following consultation with the industry, trade unions, and partner agencies, MOM has introduced a temporary scheme to give companies in all sectors more flexibility to manage their manpower needs in light of disruptions due to COVID-19.

Under this scheme, firms in all sectors can now hire existing Work Permit holders (who are in Singapore). This allows firms in need of additional manpower to tap on the pool of experienced Work Permit holders in Singapore, while reducing their search and recruitment expenses. Companies with excess manpower can also transfer their Work Permit holders to other firms, giving their workers the opportunity to continue working in Singapore, while saving on repatriation costs.

What are the types of transfers allowed under this temporary scheme?Show

The conditions for the transfers of Work Permit holders are as follows:

  • For transfers during Work Permit duration:
    Agreement from the current employer must be obtained.
  • For transfers between 40 and 21 days (inclusive) to Work Permit expiry:
    Agreement from the current employer is not needed. However, if the current employer has already renewed the worker’s Work Permit by this time, another employer will not be able to apply for the transfer of the worker.
  • For transfers from 20 days to Work Permit expiry:
    Agreement from the current employer must be obtained from 1 September 2020. This is to give the current employer sufficient time to make repatriation arrangements for their workers before the Work Permit expires, should the worker be unable to find another employer.

All prevailing sectoral Work Permit requirements for the worker’s source country or region, quota and levy will continue to apply.

How long will this temporary scheme be in place for?Show

This temporary scheme will be in place until  28 February 2022, subject to further review.

The Ministry has announced that this is a temporary scheme till 28 February 2022 for firms to hire existing workers. Does that mean the worker's Work Permit validity upon transfer will only be until February 2022?Show

The duration of a Work Permit is generally two years, subject to the validity of the worker’s passport, the security bond and the worker’s employment period, whichever is shorter. For sectors that require prior approval, it will also be subjected to the prior approval duration.

How do I release my existing worker for transfer to another company?Show

Firms in the construction, marine shipyard and process sectors should submit online to register their workers’ details and grant consent for the sector associations to facilitate their transfer to another company locally.

Construction sector Give consent to SCAL
Marine shipyard sector Give consent to ASMI
Process sector Give consent to ASPRI

Firms in the manufacturing or services sectors should provide the workers’ details and agreement for the transfer to the Singapore Business Federation or email

I already have a prospective transfer worker in mind for hire. How can I apply for the transfer?Show

For transfers within the respective sectors

More than 40 days to Work Permit expiry

Firms can submit their request via WP Online

Between 21 and 40 days (inclusive) to Work Permit expiry

Firms can submit their request online. Agreement from the current employer is not needed.

Note: Firms in the construction and process sectors can continue to use WP Online to hire existing Work Permit holders within their respective sectors, and whose Work Permits are expiring in 21 to 40 days’ time. There is no need to submit a request online.

Within 20 days to Work Permit expiry

Firms can submit their request directly to MOM using online forms if they are in the:

Agreement from the current employer is required.

Firms in the manufacturing and services sectors can approach SBF or email Agreement from the current employer is required.

Note: All prevailing Work Permit criteria apply for all new applications.

I want to hire a transfer worker but do not have a match. Who can I approach for assistance?Show

Firms that are looking to hire transfer workers can submit their request to the respective sector associations:

Sectors Sector associates
Manufacturing Singpore Business Federation
Services Singapore Business Federation (SBF)
Construction Singapore Contractors Association Limited (SCAL)
Process Association of Process Industries (ASPRI)
Marine shipyard Association of Singapore Marine Industries (ASMI)

Is this scheme also applicable to Malaysian Work Permit holders?Show

Firms are already allowed to hire Malaysian Work Permit holders who are in Singapore, from any sector. Agreement from the current employer is not required. Hiring companies can continue to use WP Online to hire existing Malaysian Work Permit holders who are in Singapore.

What are the responsibilities of the current and new employer during the transfer of a foreign worker?Show

Please see the table below to find out the current and new employers’ responsibilities and actions needed during the transfer of a foreign worker in the manufacturing, services and marine shipyard industries:

Work Permit (WP) status Who is responsible for worker's upkeep, maintenance and repatriation What you need to do next
Current employer New Employer Current employer New employer Current employer New employer
Live Approved   No action needed. You can get the WP issued one day after the current WP expires.
Expired Approved    No action needed. Get the WP issued now to avoid any overstaying fine. Submit a request if you need more time to get the pass issued. 
Expired IPA withdrawn or cancelled on or before the worker’s WP expires
  You may renew this WP if you have received the renewal notice. Otherwise, please send the worker home.
No action needed.
Expired IPA withdrawn or cancelled after the worker’s WP expires
  No action needed. You need to arrange to send the worker home.

How is the scheme administered by the sector associations?Show

Companies may register their interests to transfer their workers or receive new workers by registering with MOM and the relevant sector associations.

To facilitate the process, the sector associations will request companies to mutually agree on a suitable transfer arrangement for the worker. Releasing companies may also need to provide the respective sector associations a written agreement from the workers if required (e.g. if the worker to be transferred has a cancelled Work Permit), to allow transfer of the worker to the hiring company.

The sector association will verify the consent and inform both MOM and the hiring company of the verification. The hiring company can then proceed to submit a Work Permit application to MOM via WP Online within a month.

The releasing company does not need to cancel the worker’s Work Permit. The Work Permit will be cancelled automatically once the new Work Permit applied for by the hiring company is issued to the worker.

For more information, please visit the respective sector associations’ websites:

Sectors Sector associates
Manufacturing Singpore Business Federation
Services Singapore Business Federation (SBF)
Construction Singapore Contractors Association Limited (SCAL)
Process Association of Process Industries (ASPRI)
Marine shipyard Association of Singapore Marine Industries (ASMI)

Do I need to be a member of any of the sector associations to be eligible to hire or release Work Permit holders under the temporary scheme?Show

Companies who are not members can also approach the associations in the respective sectors.

Are there any fees involved in this scheme?Show

The hiring company will need to submit a new Work Permit application. The current application fee of $35 per application applies.

The sector associations are providing the facilitation service free of charge for the whole period of the temporary scheme until 28 February 2022.

What are the criteria to get an approval if I intend to hire a transfer worker?Show

All parties (i.e. existing employer, worker and new employer), must agree to the transfer arrangement, unless the worker’s Work Permit is expiring between 40 and 21 days (inclusive).

For all transfers, all other prevailing criteria under the respective sectors (e.g. dependency ratio ceiling, source country controls, maximum employment age, man-year-entitlement prior approval) will still apply.

Can I hire existing non-Malaysian Work Permit holders from other sectors?Show

You can only hire existing non-Malaysian Work Permit holders from your own business sector.

SCAL retention scheme to retain and hire new Work Permit holders in the construction sector

I no longer require my work permit holder’s services, but he/she wishes to continue working in Singapore. What should I do?Show

When cancelling his/her work permit, please select reason “Employer no longer needs worker”. Do not make repatriation arrangements unless you are otherwise informed by MOM and SCAL Manpower Exchange (SCMX). You will be able to cancel the work permit without indicating the repatriation flight information. SCMX will contact the worker within 3 working days and enroll him/her in the Retention Scheme if he/she wishes to continue employment in Singapore. 

How do I cancel my worker’s work permit if he/she wishes to return to his/her home country?Show

When cancelling his/her work permit, please select reason “Worker wants to go home”. You will be required to indicate the scheduled flight date to cancel the work permit. Upon the cancellation of the Work Permit, your worker will receive an SMS from MOM to inform him/her of the cancellation and confirm his/her intention to return home. 

My worker was enrolled in the Retention Scheme but I’ve already purchased a flight ticket. Will SCMX reimburse me for the flight ticket?Show

No. If SCMX is not able to successfully match the worker with a new employer, SCMX will arrange the repatriation for the worker. There will be no reimbursement of the unused flight ticket.

I cancelled my worker’s Work Permit as he wanted to return to his home country. My worker is now enrolled in the Retention Scheme. What can I do?Show

SCMX will mediate an agreement for your worker to continue working with you on mutually agreed terms. If no mutual agreement is reached, SCMX may match the worker with other prospective employers.

Workers who frequently attempt to change employers and initiate employment termination early, without due consideration given to their existing employers, will not be supported under this scheme. As a general guide, workers who have changed employers more than once the last 12 months will not be supported under the scheme.

You can provide feedback about your workers for other prospective employer’s consideration, if you agree for MOM to share your contact details with them.

Can I refuse to allow my worker to enrol in the Retention Scheme?Show

No. If your worker is enrolled in the Retention Scheme, your responsibilities and obligations as the employer of the worker will be discharged, including your security bond liabilities for that worker.

SCAL will administer the upkeep and maintenance of the worker, including the eventual repatriation of the worker if he is not matched with another employer. MOM will investigate and take appropriate action against employers who repatriate their workers forcefully.

How do I know whether my worker is enrolled to the Retention Scheme?Show

You will receive an email from MOM within 3 working days from the date of work permit cancellation, explaining the follow-up actions required. Your security bond liability for the worker will then be discharged.

How do I hire workers via the Retention Scheme?Show

You can register your interest with SCMX at You will be matched with workers via the SCAL Manpower Exchange.

Please note that you can only submit a request to hire one worker with a cancelled work permit via the Retention Scheme at any one time. Only when that application has been fulfilled by SCAL, you may then submit another application to hire. This is to ensure all employers who are interested to hire the workers through this scheme will have a chance to interview and hire the workers fairly.

Do I have to pay any fees to SCAL to hire a worker via the Retention Scheme?Show

An administrative cost will be charged by SCAL for the execution of the Retention Scheme. This will include facilitating the employment matching, costs incurred from housing, and supporting the migrant worker’s stay during the transition period. Administrative cost is charged on a per worker basis.

You can find out more information on this.

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