Temporary scheme to help manufacturing and services sectors manage manpower needs

Photo by Xi Wang

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has partnered with the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) on 25 February 2020 to introduce a temporary scheme to help companies in the manufacturing and services sectors better manage their manpower needs in view of the COVID-19 situation.

For a period of six months starting from 2 March 2020, companies in these sectors will be allowed to hire existing PRC Work Permit holders (WPH) who are in Singapore, with the agreement of their current employers. Currently, these companies can only hire PRC WPHs after they have exited Singapore.

The scheme will give companies more flexibility to manage their manpower needs. Companies facing a shortage of manpower can save on search and recruitment expenses. At the same time, companies that have excess manpower can provide their workers with an opportunity to continue working in Singapore and save on repatriation costs.

This is an existing scheme for the construction, process and marine sectors. The decision to extend the scheme to the manufacturing and services sector was taken by MOM, together with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, SBF, the Singapore National Employers’ Federation, and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).

Facilitating the transfer of existing PRC WPHS

MOM will work with SBF to facilitate the transfer of PRC WPHs between companies in the same sector. Employers who wish to hire existing PRC WPHs or transfer their PRC WPHs to another employer can contact SBF. All other prevailing work permit criteria apply for new applications.

Mr Ho Meng Kit, Chief Executive Officer of SBF, said, “This is a practical and timely initiative to help our Manufacturing and Services companies that are facing manpower challenges as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. This initiative will benefit all parties – companies that require additional workers to meet their business needs, companies that are looking to release their workers, and workers who find themselves displaced due to COVID-19 situation.”

Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, Assistant Director-General of NTUC and Director of U SME (Small & Medium Enterprises), said, “This temporary measure by MOM and MTI will be welcomed by our SMEs whose businesses have been affected by COVID-19. We know of SMEs that now have a surplus of manpower and at the same time, there are SMEs whose workers are unable to return to China.”

“We are also mindful that some of these workers may still be paying off their loans, so this move would give them a chance to continue to work. The flexibility of this temporary measure will therefore help our companies manage their cost and manpower issues,” he concluded.