Firms Ask Malaysian Workers To Stay In Singapore By 17 Mar Before Lockdown Begins
As both sides of the Causeway grapple with effects of the sudden lockdown, workers who commute between both countries are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
With very little time to react, Singaporean firms have apparently instructed their Malaysian workers to decide quickly — return and stay in Singapore before the lockdown, or take 2 weeks of unpaid leave.
Malaysian news site The Star revealed the ultimatum in an article today (17 Mar), just hours before the lockdown is due to begin.
Employers give Malaysian workers time off to pack & come back
The impending lockdown has undeniably left many scrambling, from panic buying at supermarkets to companies drawing up business contingency plans.
On the ground, Malaysian workers face a serious dilemma — to go home to their families, or stay in Singapore for 2 weeks.
Those who travel back and forth between the 2 countries are especially vulnerable.
Perhaps in a bid to speed up decision-making, Singapore firms have imposed a limit on their Malaysian workers.
According to The Star, bosses are giving workers “time off” to go back to Malaysia, pack their items, and return to Singapore before the lockdown.
If they don’t do so before midnight tonight (17 Mar), they won’t be able to re-enter Singapore over the next 14 days.
No-pay leave for 2 weeks if they stay in Malaysia
While some firms are working to provide temporary accommodation, not all may be able to do so on such short notice.
A handful have suggested staying with friends or relatives, whereas others offered their work premises, reported The Star.
The uncertainty of finding temporary shelter is perhaps why some Malaysians may choose to stay in their home country instead.
For this group, they will automatically get 2 weeks of unpaid leave.
Workers get to keep jobs after lockdown
Though the measures seem rather grave, a worker told The Star that firms have assured employees that they’ll get to keep their jobs.
Whether this is true across all affected companies is unclear.
Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing announced that Singapore and Malaysia will work together to monitor the situation and provide help if need be.
In a separate article, The Star quoted him as saying,
Our priority is to ensure that our people and our businesses are able to continue with their lives and their livelihoods.
With economic agencies assisting companies and engaging dormitory operators and hotels for short-term accommodation, relief measures are well in effect.
Hope for exceptions for daily commuters
Amidst all the confusion, daily commuters are sadly the ones receiving the brunt of the abrupt lockdown.
Without a place to stay or perhaps even contacts in Singapore, making last minute arrangements will be tough.
The thought of not seeing their families for 2 weeks if they choose to stay here is surely difficult too.
As Malaysia and Singapore work out ways to address people’s concerns, let’s hope that there’ll be some sort of leeway for daily commuters who are also sole breadwinners in their families.
Featured image adapted from The Malaysian Times.