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Employers Responsible for Costs of Repatriating Their Work Permit Holders

We refer to Mr Liu Mu Tian’s letter (Employees should share the cost of flight tickets home, 11 November).

For Employment Pass and S Pass Holders, employers may come to an agreement with their employees on cost-sharing arrangements for repatriation costs, depending on their circumstances.

For Work Permit Holders (WPHs), however, employers are required to bear the responsibility of repatriation costs under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Regulations, regardless of the circumstances of contract termination. This is to avoid a situation where the pass holders, upon termination of their employment, are left stranded in Singapore without the means to return home. There are currently no plans to shift the cost of repatriation to WPHs.

We empathise with the difficulties faced by employers in securing flights during the COVID-19 period, as many countries had border restrictions in place. We also understand that some employees had to return to their home countries due to unforeseen circumstances. This decision would not have been taken lightly, as they would have incurred financial costs and made sacrifices to work in Singapore. We encourage employers and employees to discuss their respective concerns to avoid an early termination of employment.

Employers can also approach their employment agencies for assistance.

Doris Kuek
Director, Foreign Manpower Management Policy
Workplace Policy and Strategy Division
Ministry of Manpower


Employees should share the cost of flight ticket home - Lianhe Zaobao, 11 November 2022

MOM stipulated that employers must purchase flight tickets for resigned employees before they could cancel their work pass. On the surface, this could protect affected foreign workers, but it left employers in a dilemma in practice.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many foreign employees who stayed in Singapore for a period of time insisted on returning to their home country before their work pass expired. Companies could have respected the employee's willingness to return home, but the price of a one-way flight ticket back home was staggering. The price of a flight ticket of $500 to $600 before the COVID-19 pandemic once reached more than $12,000, although it had recently dropped to nearly $2,000.

Some employees requested the company for a pay raise or "threatened" to resign, making the company spend huge sums of money to purchase flight tickets. Due to the regulations of MOM, the company had to choose the lesser of two evils and was forced to give employees a pay raise. The resulting conflict between the company and its employees had a negative impact on efforts to foster harmonious employment relationships.

I hoped that the authorities could adjust the relevant regulations and treat both parties more fairly. If the work contract clearly stipulates how to handle the employee's flight ticket home, both parties must act in accordance with the terms of the contract. Otherwise, both parties had to share the cost of the flight ticket based on the remaining validity period of the work pass. In other words, the shorter the remaining validity period of the work pass, the less the employee would have to pay.

Liu Mutian