Advisories on COVID-19: Employers Continue to be Responsible for Workers’ Salaries
Issued on 11 April 2020
- This advisory is for employers with foreign workers residing in dormitories1, and provides guidance on the payment of salaries.
- With the enhanced social distancing measures in place during the Circuit Breaker, the movement of foreign workers residing in dormitories are tightly regulated to reduce the spread of COVID-19 among foreign workers.
- In addition, foreign workers in dormitories gazetted as isolation areas are not allowed to leave the dormitories and go to work. They will remain in quarantine for 28 days as a start, subject to further review.
- Employers continue to be responsible for workers’ salaries
- Employers must continue to pay foreign workers in dormitories their salaries during this period.2
- Under the Employment Act, employers must pay salaries within 7 days after the end of the salary period. Failure to do so would constitute an offence under the Employment Act for which employer can be prosecuted. Their work pass privileges will also be suspended immediately.
- As many foreign workers remit money home, employers are strongly encouraged to pay salaries earlier than the due dates if their workers need to access physical remittance services provided at the dormitories at scheduled dates.
Requirement for salaries to be paid electronically
- To ensure that foreign workers receive their salaries during the Circuit Breaker, all employers with workers residing in dormitories are now required3 to pay salaries electronically, i.e. through General Interbank Recurring Order (GIRO) or direct bank transfer. After successful payment of salaries electronically, employers who are unable to deliver itemised payslips to their workers must minimally inform them of salaries paid via other means, such as text messages, emails and telephone calls.
- Today, about 70% of foreign workers have opened bank accounts as part of the work pass application process. The majority (76%) of the employers with foreign workers are paying salaries electronically. For the minority (24%) of the employers who do not pay salaries electronically, they are now required under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act to shift to electronic payments for salary payments that are due.
- Employers who need to implement electronic payments should first check if their workers have a bank account in Singapore:
- For foreign workers with a local bank account, employers should request for workers’ bank details and credit salaries directly into their accounts by the salary payment due date.
- For foreign workers without a local bank account, employers must immediately apply for a POSB bank account on workers’ behalf via WP Online, and are required to credit salaries directly into workers’ bank accounts for subsequent payment cycles.
- Employers will be informed of their approved applications within 2 working days, and the workers’ ATM card and PIN mailer will be mailed to company’s address within 7 working days.
- Thereafter, employers should schedule an appointment with the dormitory operators to give workers their ATM cards and PIN mailer.
- Employers who have not paid their March 2020 salaries are also required to follow this advisory and credit outstanding salaries into workers’ bank accounts as soon as practicable. Failure to do so would constitute an offence under the Employment Act.
Salary payments to be paid in cash only under exceptional circumstances
- For employers who are unable to set up electronic payments due to exceptional circumstances, they must schedule an appointment immediately with the dormitory operators to make payment in cash for all outstanding salaries. As access to certain dormitories such as those gazetted as isolation areas may be limited, employers are strongly advised to pay salaries electronically. MOM will be monitoring closely if employers have paid their workers at the dormitories.
- For subsequent payment cycles, employers are required to pay salaries electronically to all their foreign workers.
Declaration of salary payments
- Employers with foreign workers residing in dormitories are required to make a declaration by 15 April 2020, 2359 hours that they will pay salaries electronically by the next salary payment due date.