MOM’s response to TWC2 article “Exploitative law firms: systemic solutions needed from MOM”
A TWC2 article suggested that MOM was not addressing the needs of injured foreign workers. We would like to refute the following claims by TWC2.
Claim: MOM revealed the identity of a foreign worker mentioned in an earlier TWC2 article, which is not in his best interests
We take all employment-related claims by foreign workers seriously and deploy public resources to look into every case.
In this case, the foreign worker was unable to provide basic information to back a serious allegation of fraud involving MOM’s In-Principle Approval letter. Despite this, we proceeded to investigate the case and found no evidence of wrong-doing. MOM decided to reveal the name of the foreign worker as we felt individuals should not hide behind pseudonyms to make serious and unsubstantiated allegations.
We would like to remind foreign workers not to submit frivolous or unsubstantiated claims. Doing so would divert public resources from helping other workers with genuine needs.
We also question TWC2’s intentions for not revealing to MOM the names of foreign workers who genuinely need help. Was this done in the best interests of the workers or to raise the profile of their organisation? When the real identities of workers involved are masked, readers are also unable to assess the credibility of the stories. If TWC2 wants the appropriate authorities to prevent any misconduct, they should encourage foreign workers to come forward and make a formal complaint so that investigations can be carried out, instead of publicising cases of anonymous workers.
Our advice to foreign workers with employment-related claims is to approach MOM directly, to avoid this unnecessary discussion over the use of pseudonyms.
Claim: MOM should fix the problem of exploitative law firms
TWC2 is already aware of the appropriate authority which oversees the conduct of lawyers and law firms in Singapore, having written previously on this issue and receiving a response from Law Society. Policy recommendations or complaints should be addressed to them.
On our part, we have reiterated to TWC2 that there is no need for a worker to engage a lawyer to make a claim under the Work Injury Compensation Act. MOM and our interpreters will guide the injured workers through the process for free. TWC2 is aware of what they can do to facilitate the claims process for injured foreign workers under WICA, including approaching MOM directly.
Claim: MOM does not act on forced repatriation claims
We investigate such claims and will prosecute employers who forcibly repatriate their foreign workers to prevent any statutory claims, or do not pay for the upkeep of their injured foreign workers while their injury claims are processed. The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority also refers foreign workers, who alert its officers that they are forcibly repatriated or have outstanding employment-related issues, to MOM for assistance.
We are not against advocacy but it must be done responsibly and truthfully. There have been many instances where TWC2 did not verify case details and these were later found to be inaccurate (e.g. chronology of events, statements from foreign workers). Policy recommendations based on inaccurate case details are likely to be flawed. MOM will continue to rebut the factual inaccuracies in these articles to address any misperception of our processes and support for workers.