SINGAPORE — From Sept 19, employers in the construction, marine shipyard and process sectors will have to provide proof of acceptable accommodation before they are allowed to bring their new non-Malaysian work permit holders into Singapore, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Monday (Sept 11).
This is in addition to work permit approval.
The new requirement comes as the number of work permit holders in the construction, marine shipyard and process sectors sits above pre-pandemic levels.
“MOM has been facilitating the entry of workers into Singapore to enable employers to catch up on projects delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” the ministry said in a press release.
“As a result, the number of work permit holders in the construction, marine shipyard and process sectors in July 2023 was 19 per cent higher than pre-Covid levels.”
At the same time, the government has been working with the industry to increase dormitory bed supply.
However, the increased number of work permit holders means dormitories are nearly full and more migrant workers are being housed in non-dormitory accommodation.
MOM said there is a need to moderate the demand for non-dormitory accommodation and to ensure that workers have an acceptable place to stay.
Proof of acceptable accommodation should be in the form of tenancy or rental agreements, or contracts with accommodation providers.
MOM will provide employers with the approval to proceed once the necessary checks are done.
“Onboard centre bookings will also be checked to ensure that the workers registered have had their accommodation details verified,” the ministry added.
MOM advised employers to factor the time needed for the checks into their recruitment plans.
For those housing their workers in purpose-built dormitories, construction temporary quarters, temporary occupation licence quarters or their own dormitories, approval will be granted within a week, the ministry said.
For those who are housing their workers in private residential properties, hotels or hostels, the approval process could take about six weeks or more due to additional checks.
“Employers who bring their workers into Singapore without the required proof of accommodation may face suspension of their work pass privileges,” MOM said.
While government and industry efforts have resulted in about 17,000 dormitory beds being added to Singapore’s supply since December 2022, MOM said that it is not possible to keep increasing the supply at this rate.
As such, the ministry encouraged employers to contribute to the bed supply by building their own accommodation — such as construction temporary quarters, temporary occupation licence quarters and factory-converted dormitories — to house their workers.
“This will also expedite approval for these workers as the verification process will be quicker,” MOM said.
“We also urge employers to put in place productivity measures to reduce their reliance on foreign workers.”
According to MOM’s website, there were 415,000 work permit holders in the construction, marine shipyard and process sectors as of December 2022. These workers made up about 29 per cent of Singapore’s foreign workforce. CNA
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