Singapore unveils measures to help companies with cash-flow amid COVID-19

Introducing further measures to help businesses tide over the COVID-19 downturn, Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is urging firms with excess manpower to prioritise locals to be retained in their jobs.

These firms should also give consent for their existing foreign workers to be transferred  to other employers facing manpower shortages, MOM said in a press statement. 

Photo: Connected to India
Photo: Connected to India

The labour authority said it is limiting the number of entry approvals for work pass holders to enter Singapore to a very small number. Priority will be given to essential services like healthcare and transport.

Hence, employers are advised to defer plans to bring in new foreign workers from overseas until the situation stabilises, and retain existing foreign workers already in Singapore. If the foreign workers are not needed, employers should consent for them to be transferred to other employers facing manpower shortages in the same sector.

Firms in manufacturing and services sectors can approach the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) for assistance under its SBF ManpowerConnect scheme, while construction firms can tap on the Foreign Construction Worker Directory System (FCWDS) which facilitates matching of workers with prospective employers.

MOM has introduced additional measures to help Singapore companies with their immediate cash-flow. Photo: Connected to India
MOM has introduced additional measures to help Singapore companies with their immediate cash-flow. Photo: Connected to India

Extension of levy payment timeline for SMEs

Meanwhile, a three-month extension of the levy payment timeline will be given to small-and-medium size enterprises (SMEs) with immediate effect. 

Currently, the foreign worker levy incurred in the any month is due for payment by April 14.

The temporary relief measure will apply to levies incurred in the year 2020, and will provide the companies with more flexibility in their cash-flow management. Around 60,000 firms stand to benefit from this measure, MOM said.

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 seven consecutive days.

In view of the widespread 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.

This extended period of levy waiver will also apply to employers who send their foreign workers home from now till end 2020.​