Singapore

MOM makes over 1,000 calls, visits to ensure workers are serving LOA

More than 1,000 calls and visits are being made daily as part of checks by the Manpower Ministry (MOM) to ensure work pass holders are serving the mandatory 14-day leave of absence (LOA).

Other measures include requiring all workers on LOA to self-report their location to the ministry, a senior MOM official told reporters yesterday, following an announcement last week that the Government would tighten enforcement and monitoring on this front.

Mr Felix Ong, director of the employment inspectorate at MOM's foreign manpower division, said the ministry conducts three layers of checks daily on work pass holders who are serving the LOA.

STAY AT HOME

Those on LOA should limit their contact with others and stay at home, but they can make brief trips for necessities or food.

First, text messages with a unique Web link have been sent to all workers serving LOA since Monday, warning them that they need to report their location to MOM within an hour.

When clicked, the link prompts the worker to turn on the Global Positioning System location service on their phone, and their location is sent to the ministry to see if the worker is at his correct place of residence.

While Mr Ong did not reveal the frequency of such messages, citing operational sensitivities, he said they are sent randomly and multiple times a day to each worker.

Second, calls are made seven days a week to some workers.

MOM also did not reveal how such workers are selected, but a spokesman said the calls are made randomly at different intervals.

The worker's identity and details are verified against MOM's database. If the calls are repeatedly missed, checks are made with the employer.

Third, enforcement officers from MOM may conduct spot checks at the places where workers on LOA are staying in.

Mr Keith Aw, a senior manager who conducts such checks, said the inspections were also done to check on the well-being of those under the LOA.

Workers are asked about their health, their accommodation, and whether they are still receiving their salary, said Mr Aw, who works in MOM's foreign manpower division.

If a worker is unwell, he is given a mask and asked to seek medical treatment. Any issues raised will be taken up with the employer.

Mr Ong said MOM takes compliance with the LOA very seriously.

On Sunday, the ministry repatriated and banned four work pass holders and suspended work pass privileges of six employers for two years for flouting LOA rules.

Clear-cut examples of rule breaking include working at the workplace or leaving the house for non-essential trips, like watching a movie.

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