Employers of non-Malaysian work permit holders can now share costs of their SHN, Covid-19 tests: MOM

SINGAPORE – Employers of non-Malaysian work permit holders can now share the costs of stay-home-notices (SHN) and related Covid-19 tests with another employer that hires the same worker within 12 months.

Announcing this on Friday (Nov 12), the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said such costs can be shared if the worker is transferred to another employer within 12 months of completing their SHN.

This is meant to benefit employers across all sectors, said MOM.

The move follows an earlier recommendation in September that employers who hire transferred migrant domestic workers share the costs of their SHN and related Covid-19 tests.

The amount shared must not be higher than what the current employer had paid.

Both the current and new employer must sign a written agreement and retain it for a year from the date of the agreement, providing the agreement to MOM upon request to show that they did not receive more than what they had paid.

MOM said it that recommends current employers of such workers bear costs proportionate to how long the work permit holder had worked for them during the 12-month period.

The ministry gave an example of employer A, who paid $1,800 for a worker’s SHN and Covid-19-related tests, with the worker working for the employer for six months before being transferred to employer B.

In this situation, if both employers agree to pro-rate the costs by the number of months worked, then employer A should bear $900 of the costs and claim the remaining $900 from employer B.

In another scenario, employer A paid $1,800 for the worker’s SHN and Covid-19-related tests. But, this time, the worker worked for employer A for three months, was transferred to employer B for five months, and then moved over to employer C.

All three employers agreed to pro-rate the costs by the number of months worked.

In this case, said MOM, employer A should bear $450 of the costs for the three months the worker worked for him and recover the remaining $1,350 from employer B.

After that, employer B should bear $750 in costs for the five months the worker worked for him and recover the remaining $600 from employer C.

Those using the services of an employment agency for the transfer of the worker should get the agency to help facilitate the cost sharing, added MOM.

Executive director of Straits Construction Kenneth Loo said the new guidelines would help address the problem of firms poaching workers.

He gave the scenario of how employer A would bring in a worker and bear the cost of their SHN. Without the  guidelines, employer B may be able to offer the worker a higher salary as they did not have to pay for  part of the initial cost of SHN and Covid-19 tests.

Mr Loo said: “It’s good, because in the event that workers jump ship the party that brings in the worker will not suffer a total loss – it’s more equitable. This also prevents people from poaching. The (new employer) will now have to foot the bill as well, it’s the right thing to do.”

The ministry said that the announcement does not apply to Malaysian work permit holders, as they are able to change employers without needing to obtain their employer’s consent.

Instead, employers of Malaysian work permit holders may wish to consider having employment terms such as a minimum employment period or notice period for terminations in employment contracts. These terms should be mutually agreed upon and reasonable in duration, said MOM.

“If the work permit holder breaches such employment terms, they will have to reimburse the employer the costs of SHN and related Covid-19 tests. The reimbursement can be partial or full, depending on their length of service,” said the ministry.