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Who should foot the bill for Covid-19 costs?

Who should foot the bill for Covid-19 costs?

Who should foot the bill for Covid-19 costs? 冠状病毒费用该由谁承担?

Singaporean businesses rely on foreign manpower to fulfill their staffing needs. In addition to making sure that the company fulfills the local-foreign staff ratio and that the foreign staff is granted a Work Permit, companies now need to ensure that their staff undergoes testing, and if necessary, quarantine to avoid the incoming employee being a Covid-19 carrier. However, can the employers pass on these additional Covid-19 costs to such foreign employees?

From general legal principles, it is open for the employer to state in the contract of employment that the employee must foot these costs, as a pre-condition or consideration (providing value to the other party) of the contract. However, such general principles have been overridden by the specific guidelines laid down by the Ministry of Manpower which state that

  1. Employers must buy Covid-19 medical insurance before such employees (excluding Employment Pass holders and their dependents) arrive in Singapore, and such insurance must provide at least $10,000 in cover.
  2. Employers must bear costs of Covid-19 tests, transport and Stay Home Notice accommodation for Work Permit holders.

So on the surface, it seems that employers have no choice but to bite the bullet when it comes to bringing in new Work Permit employees. However, if one looks closer at the guidelines, it contains an exception:

“However, to protect yourself against Work Permit holders who job-hop shortly after starting work, you can review the contractual terms of new Work Permit holders who have yet to come to Singapore to include certain conditions [which] should be:

  • Mutually agreed between you and your workers
  • Reasonable in duration, e.g. 3-6 months for minimum employment period
  • Tied to only the costs of Covid-19 entry requirements […]

If your Work Permit holders breach these conditions, they will have to reimburse you. The reimbursement can be partial or full, depending on their length of service.”

Therefore, it is possible to pass on such Covid-19 costs to foreign employees who terminate their employment shortly after entering Singapore, as long as the employee signs the employment contract with the permitted clauses. Such costs could possibly be deducted from the last salary paid, subject to the various restrictions found in the Employment Act. Of course, such deductions would also be limited by other contract law principles, such as penalty clauses.

While these rules are accessible to the public, it may be necessary to obtain professional advice in order to ensure that the clauses in the employment agreement remain enforceable, so that the employer’s interests can be protected.

Need advice on or a review of your employment contract framework to keep up with Covid-19 rules and regulations? Email me at boongan@lawfirm.com.sg or send me a LinkedIn message.

许多新加坡企业必须聘请外来劳工,除了维持本地、外劳的比率,还需为外劳申请工作准证,而在冠状病毒泛滥的情况下,也必须让员工经过检验、隔离才能入境。雇主是否必须承担检验、隔离的费用,或可以把此类的费用转给外来雇员?

虽然从合约法律基本原则的角度,雇主可通过雇佣合约要求雇员承担某些费用,但新加坡政府人力部已设定一系列的规则,例如

  1. 雇主必须在外来雇员入境之前,购买冠状病毒的保险,提供至少$10,000的保险总额。
  2. 雇主必须承担冠状病毒检验、交通、隔离住宿的费用。

虽然表面上雇主不能把费用转给外来雇员,但规则里还是有例外。雇主为了避免外来雇员如今后短期内跳槽,能在雇佣合约注明外来雇员必须赴约至少3至6个月,若提早终止雇佣合约就必须成比例承担与冠状病毒有关的入境费用,而外来雇员必须入境时签署此合约,接收此条例。

雇主因此能通过此例外规则而防止外来雇员立马跳槽,而这些费用可从最后薪水扣除。当然, 扣除的根据必须符合新加坡雇佣法律,和其他合约法律的原则,例如合约不该包括不合理惩罚条款。

规则虽然公开,但为了维持雇佣合约的合法性、可执行性,维护雇主的利益,应当提前寻求专业意见。

需要关于雇佣合约与罐装必读有关规则的对比、审查?可通过电邮 (boongan@lawfirm.com.sg)或 LinkedIn 咨询

Need Help With A Legal Dispute? 需要关于解决纠纷的法律咨询?

If you have any questions relating to business dispute prevention or how to settle a business dispute in Singapore, feel free to email or drop me a LinkedIn message. I will do my best to respond within 24 hours.

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Need Help With A Legal Dispute? 需要关于解决纠纷的法律咨询?