Overcoming COVID-19 Together: Employers’ Obligations to Pay Foreign Workers’ Salaries

16 Jul 2020

Ref No.: 160720 (1)

UEN: S97SS0046G

Dear Valued ASPRI Members,

Overcoming COVID-19 Together: Employers’ Obligations to Pay Foreign Workers’ Salaries

It has been almost three weeks since Singapore has entered Phase 2 of Post-Circuit Breaker. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) expects more Foreign Workers (FWs) to return to work as companies resume their operations and the dormitories are COVID-cleared. However, there will still be some FWs who will not be able to return to work and as such, ASPRI would like to remind the employers on their obligations towards these FWs.

MOM is aware that business activities in the construction, marine and processing sectors have been heavily impacted due to the COVID-19 situation. The Government has rolled out a series of support measures for employers of FWs, including the latest extension of FW levy rebate of $90 for each FW from August to December 2021.

It is understood that some employers may not be able to afford to give FWs who cannot work the same level of salary support as they had been given during the Circuit Breaker. Such employers should now engage and mutually agree with their FWs and unions (if they are unionised) on a new and more appropriate salary arrangement including a reduction of salaries if necessary, for business survival. Employers who do not initiate any discussion are deemed to have agreed to continue with the salary arrangements during the Circuit Breaker.

Employers can place their FWs on extended no-pay leave if necessary but must obtain the FWs’ consent in writing. If employers and FWs cannot reach a mutual agreement on salary adjustments, either party can contractually terminate the employment with notice as required under the employment contract or Employment Act.

Kindly refer to MOM’s updated Advisory on Salary and Leave Arrangements issued on 9th June 2020. The updated advisory outlines the principles for employers to adopt for salary and leave arrangements post Circuit Breaker.