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Can I send my helper on home leave during Covid?

In pandemic-free times it's normal to send your helper for home leave to allow her to spend time with her family. But with coronavirus now upending everyone’s travel plans, you may be wondering if it's wise (or even possible) for your helper to take home leave.

Should I let my helper go home?

The MOM is currently advising that home leave be postponed until the situation surrounding COVID-19 improves. Does this mean that you can’t send your worker home at all?

In general, we would recommend following the MOM's advice, but you can still send your helper on home leave if you or her deem it necessary. However, there are a number of risks and obligations you must be aware of, should you allow your helper to take home leave.

Where would your helper be travelling back from?

A major factor in your decision process is where your helper will be travelling to, and where she will be returning to Singapore from. Singapore imposes vastly different requirements on helpers returning from different countries.

If she is travelling from:

The Philippines, Indonesia or Myanmar (Burma)

She must serve a 14-day SHN at a dedicated facility, which you must pay for. She is also required to have a negative COVID-19 PCR test from a government-certified laboratory within 72 hours of departure to Singapore.

Sri Lanka, Fiji, Hong Kong, Thailand or Vietnam

She must serve a 14 day SHN at a residence or at a dedicated facility, which you must pay for. She is also required to have a negative COVID-19 PCR test from a government-certified laboratory within 72 hours of departure to Singapore.

A word of warning - you cannot book a hotel or Airbnb for your helper’s SHN. For this reason, we strongly recommend that your helper serves her SHN at a dedicated facility, unless you happen to own a second property where your helper can serve her SHN alone.

The United Kingdom or South Africa

She won’t be allowed to return at all, unless she spends 14 days in an intermediate location from which travel is permitted.

Anywhere else

Same criteria as for the Philippines, Indonesia or Myanmar (unless they are coming from Macao or Australia, in which case see the MOM guidelines).

An extra tip - make sure that if your helper returns home, she remains in her home country for 14 days before travelling back to Singapore, and is booked on a direct flight back to Singapore if possible.

Applying for your Helper to return

For your helper to return, you must apply for an entry approval for her from the Singapore Government. From March 1st, you should submit your request via the STO SafeTravel Portal.

You are allowed to submit a request any time up to two days before planned entry, but for the best chance of approval, you should apply for the latest possible entry date (two months from the date of making the request). You may have to apply multiple times before securing an approval.

Financial Obligations


If your helper’s entry request is approved, you must buy her COVID-19 insurance that covers her falling ill from coronavirus within 14 days of entering Singapore. This is relatively inexpensive (around $30-35 in most cases).

COVID-19 Test

You must also book and pay for her Covid test ($160, or $175 if she is staying at a dedicated facility), and use the portal to book transportation to the helpers place of isolation if she is serving her SHN anywhere other than at a dedicated SHN facility. Tests are booked via Changi Airport’s eService if your helper is travelling by air, and must be booked before your helper arrives in Singapore.

SHN Facility (if required)

If your helper is required to serve her SHN at a dedicated SHN facility, you are required to pay for her SHN stay ($2,000), even if your helper does not end up travelling on the entry date you applied for. You will be sent a payment link after your helper’s planned arrival date in Singapore, and should complete the payment online.

Bearing all of this in mind, it is still advisable for you to delay your helper’s home leave. But if that is not an option, then we hope that this guide will help you navigate the process of getting your helper back to Singapore safely!

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