Monday, 7 July 2008

New Conditions to Prevent Employers and Employment Agencies from Profiteering from Employment of Foreign Workers Ready To Kick-In On 14th July

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will be introducing new Work Permit[1] and S Pass conditions to prohibit employers from receiving payment as consideration for employing foreign workers, and recovering employment-related costs from foreign workers. A new licence condition will also be introduced to prohibit employment agencies from offering payment to employers, in exchange for hiring foreign workers through them. The new conditions will make clear to employers and employment agencies that engaging in such malpractices constitute an offence.

The new conditions seek to better safeguard the well-being of foreign workers in Singapore. They also prevent labour market distortions.

New Work Permit and S Pass Conditions

From 14 July 2008, it is an offence for employers to receive payment (whether monetary or in kind) from a Work Permit holder or employment agent as consideration for employing the Work Permit holder. Employers are also prohibited from recovering employment-related expenses such as the levy and security bond from their Work Permit holders. These new conditions will also apply to employers of S Pass holders.

New Employment Agency Licence Condition

A new Employment Agency (EA) Licence Condition will also be introduced from 14 July 2008 to prohibit employment agencies from offering payment (whether monetary or in kind) to employers, in exchange for hiring foreign workers through them.

Aw Kum Cheong, Divisional Director, Foreign Manpower Management Division, MOM, said, "The new conditions will make it clear to employers and employment agencies that such errant practices constitute an offence. The Ministry will take stern action against those who breach the new conditions."

Employers who breach the new Work Permit and S Pass conditions will be fined up to $5,000 and/or imprisoned for up to six months under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act. They will also be barred from employing foreign workers in the future. Employment agencies that breach the new EA licence condition will have their licenses revoked and security deposit forfeited.

For More Information

Members of the public with enquiries on the above may call the MOM Contact Centre at (65) 6438 5122 or visit the MOM website.

[1] Work Permit holders here refer to both non-domestic foreign workers and foreign domestic workers.

Frequently Asked Questions

(Courtesy of Ministry of Manpower)

1. Why is MOM introducing new Work Permit & S Pass Conditions and Employment Agency Licence Condition to prevent employers and employment agencies from profiteering from employment of foreign workers?

Such practices increase the debt burden and compromise the welfare of foreign workers. The new conditions will make clear to employers and employment agencies that engaging in such malpractices constitute an offence.

2. What are the new Work Permit and S Pass Conditions? When will it be effective?

From 14 July 2008, it is an offence for employers to receive any form of payment (whether monetary or in kind) from a Work Permit holder or employment agent as consideration for the employment of the Work Permit holder. Employers are also prohibited from recovering employment-related expenses such as the levy and security bond, from their Work Permit holders. These new conditions will also apply to employers of S Pass holders.

3. What are some of the employment-related expenses that cannot be recovered from the foreign worker?

An employer is not allowed to recover employment-related expenses, (whether monetary or in kind), which are payable by the employer. Some of these include, but are not limited to:

a) fees associated with application, issuance, renewal, or reinstatement of the Work Permit or S Pass;

b) costs associated with furnishing a security deposit required by MOM;

c) costs associated with medical insurance required by MOM;

d) costs associated with medical examination required by MOM;

e) foreign worker levy payments required by MOM;

f) costs associated with training a foreign employee, where the training is provided by employer or required by MOM; or

g) repatriation costs.

4. Who will be affected by the new Work Permit and S Pass Conditions?

The new Work Permit conditions prohibiting employers from receiving payment (whether monetary or in kind) as consideration for the employment of the foreign worker or recovering employment-related costs will apply to all employers of Work Permit holders, including foreign domestic workers, and employers of S Pass holders.

5. What is the penalty for employers who do not comply with the new Work Permit and S Pass Conditions?

Errant employers who breach the new Work Permit and S Pass conditions will be fined up to $5,000 and/or imprisoned for up to six months under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act. They will also be barred from employing foreign workers in the future.

6. What is the new Employment Agency Licence Condition? When will it be effective?

From 14 July 2008, employment agencies will be prohibited from offering, directly or indirectly, any form of payment (whether monetary or in kind) to employers, in exchange for the employers hiring foreign workers through them.

7. Who will be affected by the new Employment Agency Licence Condition?

The new Employment Agency Licence condition will apply to all employment agencies carrying out recruitment or placement activities of foreign workers, including foreign domestic workers.

8. What is the penalty for employment agencies who do not comply with the new Employment Agency Licence Condition?

Employment agencies that breach the new Employment Agency Licence Condition will have their licences revoked and their security deposit forfeited.

9. Will MOM be implementing other measures to curb the errant practice and the recovery of employment-related costs from foreign workers?

MOM is working with the Singapore National Employers Federation to advise employers not to engage in such malpractices. Foreign workers will also be educated on the new regulatory measures through guidebooks issued by MOM, namely “Working in Singapore - A Guide for Foreign Workers” and “A Handy Guide for Foreign Domestic Workers in Singapore”, as well as briefings conducted during safety orientation courses.

10. How will employers and employment agencies be informed of the new Work Permit & S Pass Conditions and Employment Agency Licence Condition?

Employers of Work Permit holders (including foreign domestic workers) and S Pass holders, as well as employment agencies will be informed of the Work Permit and S Pass Conditions and Employment Agency Licence Condition via circulars from MOM. MOM will also announce the new conditions on the WPOL and via the EA Alert.

11. How can foreign workers report breaches of the new legislations?

Foreign workers can call the MOM Call Centre at (65) 6438 5122 or email to mom_fmmd@mom.gov.sg.

12. Where can I find more information on the new Work Permit & S Pass Regulations and Employment Agency Licence Condition?

You may wish to call the MOM Contact Centre at (65) 6438 5122, or access the website for more information on the new Work Permit & S Pass Conditions and Employment Agency Licence Condition.

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