COVID-19: MOM issues advisory on employees’ travel

With the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, the MOM has issued an advisory for employers on handling employees' travel movements.
By: | March 18, 2020

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has issued an advisory for Singapore employers on handling employees’ travel movements during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The number of cases in Singapore has risen to 243 (as of March 17), with many of them being imported cases. And the advisory follows a Ministry of Health (MOH) announcement on March 15 that anyone who enters Singapore with recent travel history to ASEAN countries, Japan, Switzerland or the United Kingdom will be issued with a 14-day stay-home notice.

Employers are now advised to defer all non-essential work-related travel and explore alternative ways of work communications such as video-conferencing.

And if work-related travel is unavoidable, employers must ensure that their employees’ health is adequately protected in accordance with MOH guidelines.

The advisory also stated that employers are expected to provide additional paid leave to affected employees for the following:

  • Quarantine or self-isolation period imposed by the destination country on the employee
  • Delay in employee’s return to Singapore, due to circumstances such as flight availability, need for MOM’s pre-entry approval to allow for orderly return of foreign employees, etc
  • Mandatory Stay-Home Notice (SHN) or company-LOA that the employee may be required to serve upon his return to Singapore

In addition, employers are also advised to accede to employees’ requests not to travel for work and they should not be penalised for that.

As for non-work related travels, employers should obtain a travel declaration from their employees on whether they have any upcoming overseas travel plans to – including, but not limited to – the affected areas covered by mandatory stay-home notice requirements.

And if an employee does go ahead with the travel plans, employers “may require the employee to use his own annual leave entitlements” to cover the duration of any mandatory stay-home notice, leave of absence or any extended period of travel in the destination country.

In the event the employee does not have sufficient annual leave, he or she should be allowed to take advance leave or go on no-pay leave.