Photo of Josephine Teo from Straits Times Wong Kwai Chow

S$100 a day has been paid out to Singapore employers for each staff on the mandatory 14 days Leave of Absence order, but some of them are exploiting the scheme by forcing their employees to take Annual Leave or No Pay Leave.

The opportunistic behaviour of Singapore employers was reported on Reddit and other social media platforms.

In response, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) hurriedly impose a new restriction banning businesses from forcing employees to take No Pay Leave while serving Leave of Absence order:

“Employers who force their workers to take no-pay leave when they have not enough annual leave for the 14-day stay-home notice or leave of absence mandated by the authorities could have their privileges to apply for work passes suspended.”

As for the deduction of Annual Leaves, MOM issued only an “advice” and did not make similar enforcement:

“If working from home is not possible, employers should provide additional paid leave for the leave of absence or stay-home-notice period without requiring the employees to use their original paid leave entitlements under their employment contract.”

Singapore workers have a government-mandated minimum 7 days of annual leave each year – the fewest among developed countries.

Earlier in February, 5 work pass holders and 2 Singapore permanent residents – all from China – were found breaching Leave of Absence (LOA) orders after their employers forced them to continue working.

Minister Lawrence Wong subsequently implemented a new law, stating that foreigners who breach the LOA will be sent home, while Singaporean offenders will face a 6 months’ jail and S$10,000 fine. The minister did not explain if the discrepant treatment is strong enough a deterrence for foreigners, or why foreigners would not be charged.