Merlion and Marina Bay Sands. Photo: Google Maps
Merlion and Marina Bay Sands. Photo: Google Maps

New foreign workers in Singapore will be required to attend a mandatory one-day “Settling-In Program” from the second half of 2018 to learn about the country’s laws and their employment rights.

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said on Sunday the program would help new migrant workers to know more about Singapore’s laws, social norms, employment regulations, as well as avenues for help, Channel NewsAsia reported.

Lim said the orientation program would be implemented in phases and would focus first on the construction sector with about 2,000 new migrant workers trained every month. Malaysians would be excluded. The program would then be extended to other sectors such as marine, manufacturing and services.

According to the Ministry Of Manpower, employers must register their migrant worker for the program and pay the course fee of S$75. All new migrant workers can only start work once they have attended the day-long program.

An evaluation by the ministry found that workers had a more positive work attitude after attending the program.

The new program came after a pilot settling-in program, conducted by the ministry from June to October last year, to help migrant workers get used to the new environment in Singapore. The pilot program served 1,900 people, The Straits Times reported.

Kenneth Loo, executive director of Straits Construction Singapore, sent 26 of his company’s foreign workers to the pilot program and said it was beneficial for both foreign workers and employers.

“As an employer, a worker who is aware of his responsibilities is more productive and can better communicate with us,” Loo said.

Currently, there are about a million foreign workers in Singapore, with about 300,000 maids or domestic workers, plus 700,000 in other sectors such as construction.

New domestic workers in Singapore are also required to undertake the mandatory “Settling-In Program” after they arrive.