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MOM does not easily revoke licences of employment agencies

  • Lianhe Zaobao (30 November 2010): MOM does not easily revoke licences of employment agencies
  • Lianhe Zaobao (23 November 2010): Is it appropriate to revoke the licences of so many employment agencies?

MOM does not easily revoke licences of employment agencies
- Lianhe Zaobao, 30 November 2010

Mr Xu Deyou’s claims in his letter (ZB, 23 Nov) were misleading.

2.   When the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) revokes the licence of an employment agency (EA), it is certainly not made lightly. Each case is carefully and thoroughly investigated. Warnings and demerit points are awarded for lesser offences. Only severe or repeated offences would result in revocation, as was the case for the 15 EAs whose licences were revoked this year. Another 17 EAs did not have their licences renewed because of their poor track record. Such strong actions are necessary as EAs are key intermediaries in the recruitment process, often involving employers as well as vulnerable rank and file workers. Weeding the EA industry of errant players instils greater confidence in the integrity and professionalism of the rest of the EAs, and protects the interests of employers and workers.

3.   Contrary to Mr Xu’s claim, there is an existing mechanism for EA licensees to appeal against the revocation. Licensees are first notified of MOM’s intention to revoke and given 21 days to explain why the revocation should not proceed. Where no satisfactory reason is given, the order to revoke is issued, after which a further 14 days is given to appeal against the order of revocation. Their licences are revoked only after the final appeal has been rejected. It is surprising that Mr Xu is unaware of this, despite being an EA licensee himself.

4.   MOM has just introduced the Employment Agencies (Amendment) Bill in Parliament on 22 November 2010 to enhance the regulatory framework for EAs and raise the standard of recruitment practices in Singapore. We aim to implement the new regulatory framework by April 2011.

Is it appropriate to revoke the licences of so many employment agencies?
- Lianhe Zaobao, 23 November 2010

Lianhe Zaobao reported on 17 November that 32 employment agencies had their licences revoked or were asked to shut down permanently in the first 10 months of 2010. The number is high and this is quite alarming.

I wonder how EA licences could be revoked so easily? Is such an outcome fair to the EAs? I understand that those ordered to cease operations cannot seek justice through legal channel. If so, some agencies might have been the aggrieved party.

Among the 32 EAs, some have been in the industry for many years and majority of EA licensees are Singaporeans. The revocations might adversely affect the livelihood and families of those concerned. Is the Government aware of the impact on the livelihood of the man in the street?

Running an EA is a small-time business, and is like driving a taxi to support the family. My view is that we could do away with permanent revocation. Instead, a fine of up to $100,000 or a temporary licence suspension for up to six months would have a strong enough deterrence.

We should also set up at a new statutory board like a council for EAs to handle EA-related issues.

With these measures, EAs could focus on operating their business with peace of mind and even expand their operations overseas.