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Five Companies Convicted of Providing Unacceptable Accommodation – First Case in 2013

MOM slaps 218 charges on accused companies for accommodation and salary offences

30 May 2013

  1. Five companies were convicted in the Subordinate Courts on 28 May 2013 for failing to provide acceptable accommodation for their foreign workers (FWs). The companies were also found guilty of failing to update their FWs’ addresses in the Online Foreign Worker Address System (OFWAS), as well as paying FWs their salaries on time. They pleaded guilty to 44 charges collectively for the housing, OFWAS and salary offences, and were fined a total of $80,000. 174 charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.

    Charges and Penalties
  2. Information on the penalties meted out to the five companies for each of the offences is presented in Table 1 below:

    Table 1: Sentence imposed by the Court on the Five Accused Companies
    Soon Aik Marine Engineering Pte Ltd  Soon Aik Offshore Pte Ltd Soon Aik Shipbuilding Pte Ltd  Yong Soon Shipbuilding Pte Ltd Yong Soon Marine Engineering Pte Ltd 
     1 Unacceptable Housing $10,000 $5,000
     2 Failure to update OFWAS $8,000 $4,000
    Not Charged
     3 Failure to pay salary within seven-day period $12,000 $5,000
       Total $30,000 $14,000 $14,000 $8,000 $14,000
  3. Of the 218 charges, 68 were related to unacceptable accommodation and OFWAS offences under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA), while the remaining were for failure to pay salaries on time under the Employment Act (EA). Please refer to Annex for the full breakdown of categories of the charges proceeded and taken into consideration against each company.
  4. Upon conviction, MOM will also bar the five companies from hiring new FWs or renewing the Work Passes of existing workers.

    Case Details
  5. Investigations revealed that during inspections conducted on 12 April last year, the premises in Tuas where the FWs were living in were not authorised for use as workers’ dormitories. They were also overcrowded, crammed and dirty. Besides insufficient toilets, overflowing rubbish bins and infestations of rodents and cockroaches, there was also no proper emergency exit route at the dormitories. MOM ordered the companies to relocate the affected workers to approved accommodation immediately following the inspections.
  6. With the exception of Yong Soon Shipbuilding Pte Ltd, the other four companies had also failed to update OFWAS when their FWs were relocated from Sungei Kadut to the illegal dormitories in Tuas in 2011.
  7. In addition, investigations also showed that the five accused companies failed to pay the basic salaries of the FWs on time. The salaries owed to workers have since been recovered.

    Employers are Required by Law to Provide Proper Housing for their FWs
  8. Under the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Work Passes) Regulations, employers are required to provide acceptable accommodation that complies with the various statutory requirements for their FWs. Employers must also register or update their FWs’ residential addresses through the OFWAS within five days of commencement of employment, or when there is a change in the workers’ residential addresses. Any change in the address should be accurately and promptly updated. Under the revised EFMA, employers who contravene any of the conditions of the work pass, shall be guilty of an offence under Section 22(1) (a) of the EFMA, and shall be liable to a fine of up to $10,000 and /or 12 months imprisonment for each offence.
  9. In the first four months of 2013, MOM conducted about 300 inspections, and took action against 428 employers for housing violations. They were either warned, offered composition or charged in court. Last year, MOM conducted 865 housing inspections and dealt with 1,062 employers for housing their FWs in unacceptable conditions.

    MOM will Intensify Inspections to Enforce the Employment Act
  10. From November 2012, MOM has stepped up enforcement against Employment Act violations. The number of inspections that will be conducted to detect Employment Act violations will be increased ten-fold, from around 500 to 5,000 a year. In 2012, 170 employers were either warned, offered composition or charged in court. Greater emphasis would be placed on ensuring compliance of the Employment Act among the employers.

    Advisory from MOM
  11. Workers who are housed in unacceptable accommodation should approach MOM for assistance by calling 6438 5122. Members of the public who have information on unacceptable accommodation can also alert MOM by providing specific details such as the address, number of workers, brief description of the living conditions, and where possible, take photos, and email the details to All information will be kept strictly confidential.
  12. Under the Employment Act, employers are required to pay salaries to their FWs within seven days after the end of a salary period. MOM reminds all employers that they have the responsibility to pay workers’ salaries on time, and will not hesitate to take stern actions against employers who flout our employment laws.
  13. Workers who have salary issues can contact MOM’s Labour Relations & Workplaces Division by calling 6438 5122 or emailing

Annex - Breakdown of categories of charges proceeded and TIC against each company