Workers in Singapore’s construction sector to serve stay-home notices

Singapore’s work permit holders and S Pass holders in the construction sector are now required to serve mandatory stay-home notices (SHNs) for two weeks, announced the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in a joint press release yesterday (18 Apr).

This is a precautionary move to ensure that there is no further interactions between the workers and those outside their residential premises. The SHN will take effect on 20 April and end on 4 May 2020 (both dates inclusive). The Dependant Pass holders of these workers are also to be placed on SHN.

According to the announcement, the recent rise in the number of foreign workers infected with Covid-19 in Singapore has been mostly concentrated in dormitories; however, contact tracing suggests that transmissions at common construction worksites may have contributed to the increase in numbers. Thus far, the cases detected among workers living outside the dormitories have been low. All those infected and their close contacts have been isolated.

The SHN applies to all workers and their dependents in any accommodation, or any place which is converted into a place of accommodation on a temporary basis, or otherwise. It excludes those staying in any dormitory gazetted as an isolation area, or any foreign employee dormitory as defined in the Foreign Employee Dormitories Act 2015, as special arrangements have already been catered for them.

MOM is implementing this requirement on all workers in the construction sector as the highest number of infected cases have come from this sector and worksite transmissions have been a contributing factor. The SHNs will help prevent further transmission of the virus between workers in the sector, across all housing types.

As for employment pass (EP) holders, they are generally less exposed to the worksites and live in non-communal premises, said MOM.

Employers to make arrangements

In the joint announcement, MOM also stated that employers who have workers affected by the SHN are required to make arrangements for these workers during the SHN period, including the provision of food and to take care of their well-being. The workers are advised to immediately consult a doctor if they are unwell.

During the SHN period, MOM enforcement officers will conduct regular checks on the workers to ensure compliance to SHN requirements. Employers are required to ensure that the addresses and mobile numbers of their foreign employees registered with MOM are up-to-date. MOM will take strict enforcement measures against errant employers or employees who do not comply with the SHN requirements, including the suspension of work pass privileges and revocation of work passes.  

Employers are also required to check on the health of their foreign employees on SHN daily for reporting to BCA. Employers should advise their workers to seek medical attention promptly if they display any symptoms of acute respiratory infection (e.g. cough, runny nose). On top of checking their own temperature twice daily, workers are also encouraged to monitor the health of their housemates and encourage them to see a doctor if they feel unwell.

In addition, employers may seek exemption from BCA for their employees to be allowed to carry out essential services such as vector control. The number of foreign workers granted such exemption to leave their places of residence to perform essential services only may be capped at BCA’s discretion

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