1,370 Foreign Workers Relocated to Approved Accommodation Upon MOM’s Intervention
Between January and November 2008, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) inspected 661 premises to ensure that foreign workers are housed in acceptable conditions. Inspections conducted at 281 foreign workers' quarters within the Dengue/Chikungunya clusters and at factory premises illegally converted into dormitories found that there were overcrowding issues at these premises, which pose public health and fire safety risks. Arising from MOM's inspections, 1,370 foreign workers have since been relocated to approved accommodation1
by their employers.
2. From January to November 2008, MOM also took enforcement action against 1,052 employers for failing to provide acceptable housing for their foreign workers. An employer was recently convicted and fined $20,000 by the court on 21 November 2008 (Please refer to Annex for case details). Twenty employers were issued composition fines ranging from $200 to $2,000 and the rest were issued warning letters.
Responsibility of employers to provide acceptable accommodation
3. Mr Aw Kum Cheong, Divisional Director of the Foreign Manpower Management Division, MOM said: “Under the Work Permit conditions, employers must provide foreign workers with acceptable accommodation throughout the period of employment. Housing foreign workers in unacceptable living conditions such as in overcrowded premises, endangers their safety and health.”
4. Employers who fail to provide acceptable accommodation for their foreign workers breach the Work Permit conditions. They face prosecution and may be fined up to $5,000 or jailed up to 6 months, or both for each infringement. In addition, the breach will be taken into consideration when the Ministry considers the employer's subsequent applications for Work Permits.
Case Study – Conviction of Chang Seng Services Pte Ltd
On 21 November 2008, Chang Seng Services Pte Ltd, a company providing conservancy services, was convicted and fined a total of $20,000 for failing to provide acceptable accommodation for its foreign workers.
Acting on information received, MOM conducted an inspection in May 2008 at Redhill Close where five workers from the company were found housed in a rubbish bin centre.
The foreign workers cooked, slept and lived in the bin centre as the company did not provide them with any other accommodation.
1Foreign workers' accommodation must meet the various statutory requirements. This includes proper land use by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Housing Development Board (HDB) or Jurong Town Corporation (JTC); building structural safety standards by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA); fire and safety standards by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF); environmental health requirements by the National Environment Agency (NEA); and drainage and sanitary/sewerage system requirements by the Public Utilities Board (PUB).