This article was first published on 3 September 2020 and has been updated with the latest information.
The Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) scheme is a safe travel lane for workers to cross the borders between Singapore and Malaysia. It requires travellers to stay in the destination country of work/business for a minimum 90-day period.
Under this scheme, employees will enter Singapore through Woodlands or Tuas Checkpoints – either on bus, car or foot. Employees will not be able to enter Singapore by land or sea through PCA and will need to seek separate approval from MOM if they want to enter via other travel methods.
Upon successful approval of their PCA, Malaysian workers will be able to stay in Singapore for as long as the validity of their work passes lasts, but need to commit to staying for at least 90 days in Singapore for work upon entry.
This article covers information from the perspective of travel from Malaysia to Singapore for Malaysian residents.
For more information about travelling from Singapore to Malaysia for work, you can look for more information on the Immigration Department of Malaysia. Recently, the Malaysian government has also tightened entry for Singapore workers to Malaysia, as community cases here have increased and there are also variants from India, South Africa, Brazil and the U.K. found here.
Singapore Citizens working in Malaysia who need to return to Singapore for short-term home leave under the terms of the PCA, you may refer to the ICA website.
Who Is Covered Under The Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA)
For those planning to come into Singapore under PCA, they would need to hold Malaysian Citizenship or Malaysian Permanent Residency, as well as hold one of these MOM-issued long-term work/business passes:
- Employment Pass
- Personalised Employment Pass
- S Pass
- Work Permit
- Training Work Permit
- Work Holiday Pass
With the expanded PCA scheme announced by the High Commission of Malaysia in Singapore, Malaysian Citizens who are also Singapore Permanent Residents (PRs) are now eligible. Applications can be made from 11 January 2021.
In addition, if your employee is a Work Permit, Training Work Permit or S Pass holder, you will need to buy COVID-19 Medical Insurance for your employee. The insurance should cover at least $10,000 in medical expenses if the employee develops COVID-19 symptoms or tests positive within 14 days of arrival in Singapore, and cover workers on work pass in-principle approvals (IPAs). You can either check with your insurance provider or check the MOM FAQ if unsure whether your existing insurance covers this.
If you are a Singapore Citizen or a Singaporean Permanent Resident with a valid Re-Entry Permit, you may return to Singapore without the need for any entry approval. However, you will be subject to the prevailing Stay-Home Notice requirements.
Family members or dependents of your employee cannot enter Singapore through this scheme and will need to apply for an entry approval from MOM. Confinement nannies and employment agencies will also not be covered under the PCA.
Under new guidelines, if your employee has recent travel history (including transit) in the past 21 days to Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, your employee will not be allowed to enter Singapore.
Applying To Travel Under The Periodic Commuting Arrangement
To apply for the Periodic Commuting Arrangement here, employers would first need to ensure the following:
- Employees have a valid work pass of least 15 days from the expected day of entry into Singapore.
- Employees understand the additional requirements from the PCA scheme.
- Employees agree to the disclosure of their COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test results by medical providers to employers and relevant government authorities in Singapore.
After acknowledgement of the above is sought from employees, companies can proceed to apply for the PCA.
As part of the application process, companies need to pay an upfront fee of $200 each employee for the mandatory COVID-19 PCR test. To complete the application, ensure you have the following information of your employees on hand:
- Employee’s FIN
- Expiry Date of Employee’s Work Pass
- Employee’s Intended Date of Entry into Singapore
- Address of Employee’s Accommodation to complete his/her Stay Home Notice
- Details of Contact Person in Company (e.g. Name, Mobile Number, Email Address)
You will then need to choose a date of entry for your employee within the 60-day window of the application, ensuring they will be able to travel to Singapore on that day.
You would need to submit your employee’s applications at least seven calendar days before your employee enters Singapore. The PCA application would be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.
Do note that there will not be a refund for the COVID-19 PCR test in the event your employee suddenly cannot enter Singapore on the day of entry to Singapore. The PCA scheme also does not allow an application to be amended or transferred to another employee once an application is approved.
Your employee will also need a new PCA application to enter Singapore if they are unable to enter on the date indicated in the application or leave Singapore during their PCA stay. New applications can only be made 90 days after the date of the applicants’ previous entry.
What To Do After The PCA Application
Employees will only be able to commence work upon completion of their 21-day SHN with negative COVID-19 tests on arrival, the 14th and 21st day of their SHN, as well as comply with MOM or governmental advisories as well as safe distancing measures. Employees will also have to wear an SHN electronic monitoring device either issued by ICA or MOM.
Refer to this list from the ICA website for the latest set of guidelines that must be followed by employees and employers. The authorities have placed the responsibility of knowing about and following these rules on companies.
Some of the responsibilities companies have to take on include (but not limited to):
- Explain that the employee has to serve a 21-day SHN at dedicated facilities, with COVID-19 testing done on the 14th and 21st day of their SHN
- Ensure that the employee has a SIM card and internet connectivity with a Singapore number to allow the foreign employee to be contactable
- The employer or the employee has to bear the full cost of the foreign employee’s stay at the dedicated SHN facility as well as the full costs of all COVID-19 tests
There are more requirements, and employers and eligible employees should refer to the full list of requirements on the ICA website for more details.
Ensuring Malaysians Can Work In Singapore Safely
The PCA scheme, like all other travel arrangement schemes now, may have lots of rules and regulations for employers to go through.
However, both governments implement such restrictions to be able to ensure that people can still travel while safeguarding the health of both Singapore and Malaysian residents.
As responsible employers, we would need to follow such schemes, so that we don’t endanger the lives of both our employees and the general community.
(Additional reporting by Dinesh Dayani)
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