MOM urges HR to set clear travel policy amid COVID-19

Employers should review work-related travel plans and defer all non-essential travel

MOM urges HR to set clear travel policy amid COVID-19

Authorities in Singapore urged employers to set clear HR policies around employee travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, be it for business or leisure.

Companies must communicate and explain the HR policies to their employees before implementing them, stated the latest employer advisory.

The updated guidelines were released following the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) advice (15 March) to defer all non-essential travel outside of Singapore to reduce the risk of contracting the virus.

READ MORE: MOH ramps up COVID-19 precautions

The advisory suggested that HR’s travel policies include information on Leave of Absence or Stay Home Notice requirements. It was issued by tripartite partners the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), NTUC and Singapore National Employers Federation.

Business travel
If work-related travel cannot be avoided, employers must ensure that their employees’ health is adequately protected based on MOH guidelines.

Employers are also expected to provide additional paid leave to cover:

  • quarantine or self-isolation period imposed by destination country
  • any delays in employee’s return to Singapore, due to circumstances such as flight availability or need for MOM’s pre-entry approval for foreign employees
  • mandatory Stay Home Notice or LOA upon return to Singapore

“Employers should accede to employees’ request to not go on any work-related travel and should not penalise them for making such a request,” MOM said.

READ MORE: Don't ask employees if they have Covid-19, and other HR tips

Holiday travel
Employers should remind employees of MOH’s travel advisory to defer all non-essential travel plans to all countries. Employers should obtain a travel declaration from their employees, on whether they have any upcoming overseas travel plans.

If an employee still proceeds to travel overseas, the employer may require the employee to use his own annual leave entitlements to cover the duration of any mandatory or company-imposed quarantine requirements.

Employees will also have to cover any travel extensions imposed by the destination country.

If the employee does not have sufficient annual leave entitlements, the employer may allow the employee to use advance leave or no-pay leave.

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