Travel Border Restrictions Update – Singapore:
In a further attempt to manage the heightened risk of importation of COVID-19 cases, all short-term visitors will be barred from entering or transiting via Singapore. This has come as a measure given despite the border restrictions implemented, 533 short-term visitors arrived in Singapore on 21st March 2020 alone where almost 80 per cent of new COVID-19 cases in Singapore over the past three days (from noon on 21 March) were imported, with most of them Singapore residents and long-term pass holders returning home.
Limited entry for work pass holders The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will also be tightening the entry requirements for work pass holders.
It will allow the entry or return of work pass holders, including their dependants, who are providing essential services, such as those in healthcare and transport.
Currently, all work pass holders and their dependents planning to enter Singapore from any country are already required to obtain MOM’s approval before beginning their journey.
There is currently no end-date to these measures. The new measures will take effect from 11.59pm on Monday.
The Singapore government has implemented some measures to assist businesses on coping with COVID-19 situation. For overview of advisory on COVID-19 for businesses, it is recommended to visit Enterprise Singapore website at https://www.enterprisesg.gov.sg/covid-19. Enterprise Singapore is the government agency championing enterprise development. Enterprise Singapore works with committed companies to build capabilities, innovate and internationalise, supporting the growth of Singapore as a hub for global trading and startups. As an ease of reference, the following is a snapshot of some topics that were covered in the advisory:
Employment PracticesSingapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) implement additional precautionary measures to further reduce the risk of importation of the virus to Singapore. MOM strongly advised Singapore Corporations and Employers to check the MOM’s website:
- For the latest advisories, please refer to (http://www.mom.gov.sg/covid-19)
- General guidelines and precautionary measures, flexible work arrangements, quarantine matters, Leave of Absence (LOA), Stay-Home Notice (SHN) and LOA/SHN Support Programme, please refer to (https://www.mom.gov.sg/covid-19/frequently-asked-questions)
Summary of the topics covered in the above advisories:
i.) Eligible claims and medical benefitsThe 5-day sick leave is encouraged and mandatory to individuals who have respiratory symptoms to allow them to rest at home and to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as soon as medical assistance at available medical assistance clinic (Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) is sought. The list of medical clinics can be found at the following address (https://www.flugowhere.gov.sg/)
As a guidance on proposed classification of the 5-day sick leave, Employers can treat the 5-day MC given as part of their paid outpatient sick leave under the Employment Act. Alternatively, if they wish to provide more support for their employees, employers could also choose to classify the 5-day MC as part of their paid hospitalisation leave entitlements.
If an employee were to have insufficient paid outpatient sick leave in the future, employers are encouraged to be flexible and compassionate and consider granting additional paid sick leave to the employee taking into consideration the prolonged the sick leave used for the COVID-19 situation.
ii.) Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower (TAMEM) and Responsible Retrenchment (“Advisory”) in view of the evolving COVID-19 situationThe Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) have jointly updated the Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment (“Advisory”) in view of the evolving COVID-19 situation. To assist businesses in some sectors which may have suffered sharp declines in volume and revenue and in response to assisting some employers that have started to implement cost-saving measures, the tripartite partners have thus updated an Advisory to provide clearer guidance to affected employers on the appropriate measures to manage excess manpower.
Please visit the website for more information (https://www.mom.gov.sg/newsroom/press-releases/2020/0311-tripartite-partners-update-advisory-on-managing-excess-manpower-and-responsible-retrenchment)
● Flexible Work Scheduling
● Mandatory reporting to MOM on cost-saving measures
● Training and Upskilling
Please also refer to Press Release TAMEM – Support to Business as found on the link for your reference.
iii.) Advisory on social distancing measures at the workplaceNew Social Distancing Measures for Singapore (Updated 20th March 2020), the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced various social distancing measures to be taken to reduce the risk of local spread of COVID-19, including at workplaces. Such measures are to limit large crowds gathering in close proximity over prolonged duration.
The tripartite partners – the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) – encourage employers to adopt social distancing measures at the workplace, where practicable, to provide a safe working environment for their employees. Employees are reminded to practice social responsibility by observing good personal hygiene, monitoring their own health conditions and staying at home to rest if unwell.
Safe distancing measures for Workplaces
- Employers are strongly advised to put in place measures to reduce close physical interactions amongst employees. All employers should facilitate telecommuting for their employees to work from home. Tele-conferencing should also be used in place of physical meetings wherever possible.
- For employees undertaking job roles or functions where telecommuting is not feasible, employers should take the following precautions:
- Staggered working hours: Employers should implement staggered working hours (for both reporting and ending times) with minimally three one-hourly blocks and no more than 50 percent of total employees reporting to work within each one-hour block. Where possible, reporting and ending times should not coincide with peak-hour travel, especially if employees require the use of public transport.
- Reduce duration and proximity of physical interactions: Employers should provide for physical spacing (of at least one metre apart) between work stations. If there is a need for physical meetings, the number of attendees should be limited and the duration shortened. Seats in meeting rooms should also be spaced at least a metre apart.
- Defer non-critical events and scale down critical work events: For critical work events that cannot be deferred, employers must limit these to no more than 250 participants at any point in time and put in place measures to ensure separation of at least a metre between participants. These include meals and mingling during the event.
The above requirements and advisories for events, gatherings, workplaces and public venues will be subject to further review based on the global and local situation.
Please visit the website for more information (https://www.mom.gov.sg/covid-19/advisory-on-social-distancing-measures)
iv.) MOM’s Entry Approval
From 16 March 2020, 2359 hours, MOM will require all work pass holders (including dependants) with travel history to ASEAN countries (please refer to advisory on certain excluded scenarios), Japan, Switzerland, or the United Kingdom within the last 14 days and planning to enter/return to Singapore, to obtain MOM’s approval before they commence their journey. Please note that the list is updated from time to time, please refer to MOM’s website for latest publications and updates.
Please note that these requirements are regardless of the nationality of the work pass holder. The entry approval requirement applies to:
a) Existing work pass holders currently out of Singapore; and
b) In-Principle Approval holders who have yet to enter Singapore.
Upon arrival in Singapore, all affected work pass holders will be placed on a mandatory 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN). When applying for entry approval, employers will be required to declare to MOM that they have arranged for suitable premises to house these entering/returning employees for the duration of their SHN.
Employers are required to apply for entry approval using this online facility. Employers should inform their affected employees (including their dependants) not to make travel plans to Singapore until approval has been received from MOM. The employers will be required to send the MOM approval letter to the employees who will need to show it to the airline staff upon check-in and at the ICA checkpoint upon arrival in Singapore.
The entry approval requirement for work pass holders (including dependants) with travel history to mainland China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, France, Spain and Germany within the last 14 days, remains unchanged.
v.) Leave of Absence Support Programme (LOASP) Extended to Those Serving Stay-Home NoticeEmployers advised to impose LOA on employees returning to Singapore between 14-20 March
In view of the heightened risk of importation of COVID-19 cases into Singapore, the Singapore Government has encouraged employers to impose Leave of Absence (LOA) for all employees returning to Singapore between 14 and 20 March 2020 if they have not been issued with (Stay-Home Notice) SHN.
During the company-LOA period, employers are encouraged to adopt flexible working arrangements (FWAs) to allow these employees to work from home.
Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has introduced a support scheme to allow employers and self-employed persons (SEPs) to claim for the S$100 daily support for such company-imposed LOA (company-LOA) under the Leave of Absence Support Programme (LOASP).
As the information is continuously being updated, please be advised to continue to monitor the relevant websites of Singapore Government agencies.
Economic measures for companies and workersThe Government implemented the following schemes and incentives that will benefit your Singapore Company:-
For more information on how the Government is helping firms to stay afloat in these uncertain, you may visit the website at https://www.gov.sg/article/coping-with-covid-19-economic-measures
● Jobs Support Scheme (JSS)
The Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) will help enterprises retain their local employees during this period of uncertainty. It is a temporary scheme for 2020. Employers will receive an 8% cash grant on the gross monthly wages of each local employee* for the months of October 2019 to December 2019, subject to a monthly wage cap of $3,600 per employee.
Employers do not need to apply for the JSS. The grant will be computed based on CPF contribution data. Employers can expect to receive the JSS payment from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) by 31 May 2020.
● Enhancement to Wage Credit Scheme (“WCS”)
To continue encouraging enterprises to invest in raising productivity, upgrading and sharing of gains with their workers, the monthly wage ceiling will be raised from $4,000 to $5,000 for qualifying wage increases given in 2019 and 2020, so that more Singaporean employees will benefit.
Government co-funding levels will also be raised for 2019 and 2020 qualifying wage increases by five percentage points, to 20% and 15% respectively. Application is not required. IRAS will notify eligible employers by post of the Wage Credit payable to them by end Mar of the payout year.
Wage Credits on each qualifying employee will be computed as follows: ● Corporate Income Tax (“CIT”) Rebate
The Government has raised the Corporate Income Tax (“CIT”) Rebate to help companies with cash flow. The CIT Rebate of 25% of tax payable, capped at $15,000, will be granted for Year of Assessment (“YA”) 2020.
For more information.