When Malaysia announced its Movement Control Order (MCO) back in March, Malaysians who commuted daily to Singapore had a difficult choice to make: live in Singapore for the next few weeks, or possibly lose their jobs.
Fortunately, the Singapore government offered its support with initiative likes the Temporary Housing Support (THS) scheme, which granted employers $50 per affected worker per night.
Companies were also urged to help tide their workers over until Malaysia opened up again.
But then Malaysia extended its lockdown more times than PM Lee gave speeches this year, which is saying something.
So, for some businesses, financially supporting their workers may no longer be possible.
NTUC FairPrice Going to Stop Housing Allowance for 1,000 M’san Workers Who Are Stuck Here After MCO
FairPrice will cease its accommodation support for around 1,000 of its Malaysian employees because it is no longer financially sustainable, reported Business Times.
To help its Malaysian workers who were stranded here in March after Malaysia’s lockdown, FairPrice offered a temporary package which included free accommodation, free parking, a daily allowance, and other benefits.
Some 1,000 of their 1,300 Malaysian employees took up the package.
While it extended the package for almost four months, FairPrice says that it has stepped down its package to provide accommodation only, out of “financial sustainability and prudence and consideration for (its) other Malaysian employees already residing in Singapore”.
But now, they’re ceasing it altogether.
The supermarket chain said they reviewed the package and decided to end it on 9 July because they needed to find a “sustainable way moving forward”.
Might Have to Relocate
Malaysian workers in FairPrice now have another difficult decision to make.
Malaysia and Singapore are discussing plans to resume cross-border travel, but this will take some time.
This means that commuting will not be easy for Malaysian workers, as they will likely require approval from the Ministry of Manpower to enter the country once they leave.
For these reasons, FairPrice said its Malaysian workers will have to consider relocating to Singapore for “health, security, and stability reasons.”
Employees will have the option to take three months’ leave to return to Malaysia to discuss this possible relocation with their families.
But even that carries a risk.
Might Not Be Able To Come Back
According to Business Times, workers who choose to return to Malaysia to discuss relocation with their families have to sign an acknowledgement of understanding that they are leaving Singapore with the risk of being denied entry back into the country.
Employees who return to Malaysia have one month to make their decision. If they do not intend to relocate to Singapore, they can submit their resignation, FairPrice said in a letter to employees.
The supermarket chain is offering to pay agents’ fees for those who choose to relocate and will even hand out loans, which will be deducted from their salaries later on.
If they choose to stay at their current accommodation, FairPrice will help them get “preferential rates”.
Did Not “Actively Terminated” Affected Staff
Speaking to Business Times, FairPrice said that it had not “actively terminated” any staff affected by the MCO.