Circuit Breaker: MOM advises against 'prolonged' no-pay leave

The authorities 'strongly urge' employers not to resort to retrenchments or unpaid leave to manage costs during the period

Circuit Breaker: MOM advises against 'prolonged' no-pay leave

Tripartite partners, including the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), ‘strongly urge’ employers not to resort to retrenchments or prolonged no-pay leave during Singapore’s Circuit Breaker period.

Employers who implemented cost-saving measures prior to the month-long business suspension can continue to do so, but should tap onto the initiatives offered in the Solidarity Budget “to minimise hardship” of employees.

“Some employers have been severely affected by COVID-19 prior to the current suspension of activities at workplace premises,” said MOM. “These employers would have worked out cost-saving measures with their unions and employees…such cost-saving measures should continue.”

READ MORE: COVID-19: How to implement a 'fair' employee pay cut

The authorities offered guidelines on salary and leave arrangements during the Circuit Breaker.

For full-time local employees:

  • Employees working in essential services or telecommuting from home must be paid their salaries including the employer’s contributions to CPF.
  • Companies that have done well and are still doing well could also consider recognising the efforts and contributions of employees during Circuit Breaker through additional incentives such as food vouchers.

For local employees who cannot work during Circuit Breaker:

  • Assign work to complete at home and continue to pay prevailing salary.
  • If it’s not possible to assign work to employee, tap on the Jobs Support Scheme salary payout to provide a baseline pay.
  • Where possible, you should also allow and support employees to take on a second job, such as a temporary job with another employer, in companies that can continue to operate during Circuit Breaker. This can help make up for the employees’ loss of income and mitigate the negative impact on their livelihood.

If the employee’s salary is still below their usual wage, you can opt to:

  • Send them for training courses
  • Apply for Flexible Work Schedule arrangements to allow a “time bank” of hours worked
  • Grant additional paid leave
  • Allow employee to use up existing leave entitlements

READ MORE: Circuit Breaker: How can HR support employees?

For full-time foreign employees:

  • Employees must be paid their prevailing salaries.

For foreign employees who cannot work during Circuit Breaker:

  • Employers must continue to be responsible for their maintenance and work out mutually agreed salary and leave arrangements with the unions and employees, especially for low-wage work permit holders who may need more support.
  • Allow them to use their leave entitlements. If they run out of leave days, employers can offer salary support and apply for Flexible Work Schedule arrangements.
  • Alternatively, you can opt for arrangements such as providing a lower pay that covers their basic needs like food and accommodation.

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