Foreign Workforce (Spass and Work Permit Holders) play a pivotal role in Singapore's development, especially in supplementing the manufacturing, marine, process, and construction industries. The latest figures from December 2022 show the foreign workforce has reached an all-time high of 1.4 million comprising an estimated 40% of Singapore’s total labour force (Ministry of Manpower, 2022).
Employers that hire foreign workers have obligations and responsibilities towards this workforce in particular. From 1 July, 2023 the Ministry of Manpower’s changes to mandatory medical insurance for new and existing Work Permits (including Migrant Domestic Workers) and S Pass holders will better protect employers from large medical bills incurred by their foreign employees.
The upkeep and maintenance of the foreign employee in Singapore, including the provision of medical treatment. This includes Medical Insurance coverage of at least SGD$15,000 per 12-month period of the foreign employee’s employment for in-patient care and day surgery
Bearing the costs of such upkeep and maintenance
The foreign employee may be made to bear part of any medical costs that exceed the minimum mandatory coverage if:
The part of the medical costs to be paid by the foreign employee forms no more than 10% of the employee’s fixed monthly salary per month;
The period for which the foreign employee must pay part of any medical costs must not exceed an aggregate of 6 months of their period of employment with the same employer; and
The foreign employee’s agreement to pay part of any medical costs is stated explicitly in their employment contract or collective agreement.
Details of the upcoming enhancements
The enhancements will come into effect in two phases. These are outlined below.
What are the next steps for employers?
For employers whose insurance policies covering foreign workers for Medical Insurance have renewed prior to 1 July 2023, existing coverage can continue, and changes will need to be made upon the next renewal.
For Employers whose insurance policies are renewing after 1 July 2023, coverage should be amended to meet the new requirements from renewal.
It is likely that insurers who already provide Foreign Workers Medical Plans will adjust accordingly, and this product will be available for clients to implement from 1 July 2023.
Employers that provide coverage for employees under their Group Medical Insurance plans are encouraged to start conversations with the insurer or intermediaries on how best to revise these plans accordingly.
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