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Helping businesses on manpower issues

MOM has introduced temporary schemes to help companies manage the manpower disruptions caused by COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019).

Updated as of 1 April 2020

Additional temporary relief measures to help companies with immediate effect

Three-month extension of levy payment timeline for SMEs

MOM will provide SMEs with an additional three months to make the levy payment. SMEs will have up to 5 months to pay for the foreign worker levy from the month it is incurred before revocation action kicks in.

This temporary relief measure will apply to levies incurred in the year 2020. Firms who are making use of the extended timeline are encouraged to retain existing workers and should not be employing fresh foreign workers. MOM will hence allow renewals but not new applications of work passes from these firms.

The late payment penalty of 2% monthly will still apply for levies which are deferred. Firms are hence encouraged to exercise financial prudence and plan their cash flow to pay levies on time as far as possible.

See illustration using levy incurred for the month of March 2020.

Up to 90 days levy waiver for foreign workers on overseas leave

Currently, MOM allows levy waiver for up to 60 days for foreign workers who go on overseas home leave for at least 7 consecutive days. In view of travel restrictions and difficulties workers may face in returning to Singapore, MOM will extend the levy waiver period to up to 90 days with immediate effect for foreign workers who are currently on overseas leave. Employer who send their foreign workers home from now till end-2020 will also be eligible for levy waiver, subject to the 90-day cap. Employers arranging for their workers to leave Singapore and seeking a return subsequently will be subject to the prevailing conditions then.

You can apply for the waiver at CPF website.

Man-year entitlement (MYE) refund for construction firms

Currently, some construction firms are unable to fully utilise the man-year entitlements (MYE) allocated for their projects due to delays in overseas supplies and entry of foreign construction workers due to travel restrictions. The MYEs are currently forfeited, and results in higher cost to contractors who will have to hire foreign workers on higher levy rates.

In partnership with the Singapore Contractors Association Limited (SCAL) and the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), a temporary 6-month scheme will be introduced from 1 Apr 2020 to refund unused MYEs due to work disruptions from COVID-19. Firms have the flexibility to use the refunded MYE within 1 year to hire new workers or renew existing ones.

Affected firms can apply to BCA for the MYE refund. BCA will provide more details on the application process.

Temporary scheme to help companies in manufacturing and services sectors manage manpower needs

With effect from 2 March 2020, a temporary scheme will be introduced to help companies in the manufacturing and services sectors better manage their manpower needs.

Companies in these sectors will be allowed to hire existing PRC Work Permit holders who are in Singapore, with the agreement of their current employers.

Over the next 6 months, MOM will work with the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), who will help to facilitate the transfer of PRC Work Permit holders between companies.

Employers from the manufacturing or services sectors who are interested to hire existing PRC Work Permit holders, or transfer them to another employer in the same sector, can approach SBF for help. All other prevailing work permit criteria apply for new applications.

For more info, read the FAQs on temporary scheme to help businesses manage manpower disruptions due to COVID-19.

Temporary scheme to allow companies to transfer foreign workers across sectors to manage manpower needs

With the entry of work pass holders into Singapore being restricted to a very small number to reduce the risk of importation, MOM will be expanding the temporary scheme to help more firms hire workers who are already in Singapore (in addition to the scheme introduced in 2 March 2020).

From 1 April 2020, the scheme will be expanded as follows:

  • Allow inter-sectoral transfer of foreign workers for all sectors:
    Firms in all sectors can hire existing Work Permit holders (who are in Singapore) from other sectors, with the agreement of their current employers. This relaxes the current rule that only allows transfers within the respective sectors.
  • Allow transfers of foreign workers whose Work Permits are nearing expiry for all sectors:
    Firms in all sectors can hire existing Work Permit holders from their own or another sector, where the work permits are within 40 days of expiry. This is an extension of a scheme that exists for the construction and process sectors for transfers within their own sectors. Agreement from the current employer is not needed.

Hiring firms will be required to meet the prevailing Work Permit criteria under their respective sectors. This temporary scheme will be in place until 31 August 2020.

For inter-sectoral transfers (earlier than 40 days before Work Permit expiry), firms can approach SBF at manpowerconnect@sbf.org.sg or visit SBF’s website for more information.

For transfers of Work Permit holders from 40 days before work permit expiry (including inter-sectoral transfers), firms can submit their request online.

For more info, read the FAQs on temporary scheme to help businesses manage manpower disruptions due to COVID-19.