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Written Answer by Mrs Josephine Teo Minister for Manpower to PQ on Expiry Dates for Work Permits in the Construction Sector

NOTICE PAPER NO. 258 OF 2021 FOR THE SITTING ON 16 FEBRUARY 2021
QUESTION NO. 674 FOR WRITTEN ANSWER

MP Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song:
To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) how many construction sector work permits had expiry dates falling between July and December 2020 (both months inclusive); and (b) of these, how many (i) expired without being renewed (ii) were renewed by employers later than the 40th day prior to their expiry date and (iii) were cancelled by employers later than the 56th day prior to expiry.

Answer:

  1. Eligible employers can renew the work permits of foreign construction workers from around the last 56 days or 8 weeks of a work permit’s validity. Upon receipt of a renewal notice by MOM, the employer can renew the work permit at any time before its expiry. If the work permit is not renewed, the employer is responsible to repatriate the worker when the permit is cancelled or expires.
  2. Foreign construction workers can transfer to a new employer any time during employment provided the current employer agrees. Between the 40th day and 21st day from expiry or the last 3 to 5 and a half weeks of the work permit, if the current employer has not already renewed, the worker can transfer to a new employer without the current employer’s agreement. This allows the worker to find new employment without having to leave Singapore. From the 20th day before expiry or the final 3 weeks of the work permit, as the current employer would already be making preparations to repatriate the worker and would have incurred additional costs, it would not be fair to allow for last-minute transfers without the current employer’s consent.
  3. Of the 168,900 work permits from the construction sector expiring between July and December 2020, 105,900 (63%) were renewed by the employers, with 96,200 renewed in the last 40 days of the work permit. This is mainly due to workers being unable to leave their dormitories during the lockdown last year to complete the renewal process. Another 34,500 (20%) were issued with a new work permit under another employer.
  4. Of the remaining, 28,500 (17%) were neither renewed nor re-issued with work permits, 7,900 (less than 5%) were cancelled in the last 8 weeks of the work permit, while 5,100 (3%) expired. The others were mostly cancelled before the last 8 weeks of the work permit.