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MOM Arrested 260 Foreigners for Operating Food Stalls Illegally

In line with efforts to step up enforcement in the Food & Beverage (F&B) sector, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) conducted an island-wide operation targeting more than 100 food stalls between January to February 2007. A total of 260 foreign workers were arrested for operating food stalls without valid work permits.

2.   The Ministry has detected a high incidence of Singaporean licensees subletting the food stalls to foreigners in coffeeshops in the last few months. It is a violation of the Employment of Foreign Worker Act1 (EFWA) for any person to engage foreigners to operate the food stalls without valid work permits. The 260 foreign workers and Singaporeans are currently being investigated by MOM for possible violations of the EFWA. Additionally, the National Environment Agency (NEA) is also investigating the stall licensees for possible violation of the Food Hygiene Regulations under the Environmental Public Health Act.

3.   In 2006, MOM has arrested 1,447 foreigners for working illegally in the F&B sector, up from 887 workers arrested in 2005. They were found working illegally as food servers, cooks, stall assistants and cleaners at food outlets and restaurants. The Ministry will continue to adopt tough enforcement actions, particularly in sectors prone to illegal employment such as the F&B and conservancy sectors.

4.   The Ministry would like to remind employers that they should not lease out their food stalls to foreigners. Such employers may be liable for prosecution under the EFWA if they employ foreign workers without valid work passes. Employers of foreign workers should also not deploy them to work in an occupation which differs from that stated in their work permits. Foreigners who desire to work in Singapore should ensure that their employers had obtained the necessary work pass before commencing work.

5.   The Ministry would also like to urge anyone with specific information on such offences to contact MOM at (65) 64385122 or via email at

1 Under the Employment of Foreign Workers Act, any person employing foreigners without valid Work Permit is liable to be charged in court. A first-time offender faces a fine equivalent to between two to four years of the foreign worker levy for each foreign worker, or imprisonment of up to one year, or both. For the second and subsequent conviction, there is a mandatory jail sentence of between one to 12 months.