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Singapore - New Health Directive to Contain Spread of Coronavirus

Singapore - New Health Directive to Contain Spread of C

As the Chinese New Year holidays conclude, Singapore residents, work pass holders, and their families in China are now expected to return to Singapore in the coming weeks. The government is implementing the new precautionary measure as there is a higher chance that returnees could be carrying the Covid-19 (coronavirus). On 18 February 2020, the Singapore government introduced a mandatory 14-day stay-home notice (SHN) requirement to replace the current leave of absence (LOA) requirement.

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On 18 February 2020, the Singapore government introduced a mandatory 14-day stay-home notice (SHN) requirement to replace the current leave of absence (LOA) requirement.1 (For prior coverage, see GMS Flash Alert 2020-028 (13 February 2020).)

As the Chinese New Year holidays conclude, Singapore residents, work pass holders, and their families in China are now expected to return to Singapore in the coming weeks. The government is implementing the new precautionary measure as there is a higher chance that returnees could be carrying the Covid-19 (coronavirus).2  

WHY THIS MATTERS

This affects work pass holders of all nationalities, their dependents, and those with “in-principle” approvals who were in Mainland China (outside of Hubei Province2) within the past 14 days, who arrive in Singapore from midnight on 18 February 2020 onwards, as they will need to comply with a stricter health directive than the current LOA. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) pre-approval continues to be required – see our earlier report. There are noncompliance penalties for both employers and employees.

Individuals currently on LOA will continue to serve their LOA under the conditions prescribed earlier by the immigration and health authorities.

Stay-Home Notice, Leave of Absence, and Quarantine Compared

Stay-Home Notice

Persons on SHN will be required to remain in their residences at all times during the mandatory 14-day period.  This is stricter than the LOA regime. They will be reminded to monitor their health closely and minimise contact with others.

During the SHN period, their companies may allow them to work from home.

The following groups of people will be placed on SHN: 

  • Returning Singaporeans and permanent residents who travelled to Mainland China (outside of Hubei Province) within 14 days of arrival; and
  • Returning work pass holders and their dependents, as well as those with in-principle approvals who travelled to Mainland China (outside of Hubei Province) within 14 days of arrival.

As with the LOA, the MOM expects implementation of the SHN to be a shared responsibility between the company and the foreign employee, and that it will be monitored and enforced strictly.  Stringent surprise checks including video calls and physical inspections will be conducted.  For noncompliance, foreign employees may face revocation of their work passes and repatriation. Employers may have their work pass privileges curtailed. Permanent residents and dependents of work pass holders may have their immigration status revoked or the validity shortened. Singaporeans who flout the SHN may face penalties and prosecution under the Infectious Diseases Act.

 

Leave of Absence

As of 18 February 2020, the LOA requirement ceases and is replaced by the SHN. Those already serving their LOA can still be allowed to leave their residences for daily necessities or urgent matters although contact with others should be kept to a minimum. The same consequences for noncompliance as the SHN apply to those continuing their LOA.

Quarantine

The following groups of people will be placed on quarantine:

  • Returning Singaporeans and permanent residents who traveled to Hubei Province, China within 14 days of arrival;
  • Returning work pass holders and their dependents who traveled to Hubei Province, China within 14 days of arrival; 
  • Returning permanent residents and holders of work or dependent passes with Chinese passports issued in Hubei Province; and
  • Recent travelers from Hubei who are already in Singapore – the health authorities will assess who among this group are at higher risk and place them on quarantine.

A quarantine order is a legal directive, noncompliance with which will constitute an offence carrying serious penalties.  Individuals issued with a quarantine order must not leave their designated housing for any reason.  They will be deemed to be on paid hospitalization leave.

KPMG NOTE

As the coronavirus situation continues to evolve, there may be additional requirements imposed on work pass holders in the future. Employers and employees are strongly advised to check the MOM’s website (http://www.mom.gov.sg/covid-19 ) for the latest advisories.

FOOTNOTES

1  See Past Updates on Covid-19 Local Situation on Singapore Ministry of Health website and Mandatory Stay-Home Notice for Work Pass Holders with Travel History to Mainland China on Singapore Ministry of Manpower website. 

2  Work pass holders with passports issued in Hubei Province, China, or who traveled to Hubei within the last 14 days are advised to postpone their return to Singapore. Those who do so will continue to be quarantined upon arrival.

*  Please note that KPMG LLP (U.S.) does not offer immigration services or labour law services. However, KPMG Law LLP in Canada can assist clients with U.S. immigration matters.

 

The information contained in this newsletter was submitted by the KPMG International member firm in Singapore.

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Flash Alert is an Global Mobility Services publication of KPMG LLPs Washington National Tax practice. The KPMG logo and name are trademarks of KPMG International. KPMG International is a Swiss cooperative that serves as a coordinating entity for a network of independent member firms. KPMG International provides no audit or other client services. Such services are provided solely by member firms in their respective geographic areas. KPMG International and its member firms are legally distinct and separate entities. They are not and nothing contained herein shall be construed to place these entities in the relationship of parents, subsidiaries, agents, partners, or joint venturers. No member firm has any authority (actual, apparent, implied or otherwise) to obligate or bind KPMG International or any member firm in any manner whatsoever. The information contained in herein is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavor to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act on such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the particular situation.

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