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MOM: Employment agency fees are already capped

  • The Straits Times (27 December 2013) : MOM: Employment agency fees are already capped 
  • The Straits Times (21 December 2013) : Regulate agents' recruitment fees

MOM: Employment agency fees are already capped
- The Straits Times, 27 December 2013

  1. We refer to the letter (“Regulate agents' recruitment fees”, 21 December) by Ms Patricia Phua.
  2. We agree with Ms Phua that employers of foreign workers should be prohibited from hiring unlicensed employment agencies (EAs), and that the agency fees payable by the foreign worker should be capped. Ms Phua will be pleased to know that these are already required under the Employment Agencies Act (EAA).
  3. Specifically, the EAA stipulates that Singapore EAs are allowed to collect no more than one month of the worker’s salary for each year of service, capped at two months’ salary. EAs are required to issue itemised receipts, stating the services rendered and amount collected. They must also refund at least half the agency fees collected from workers who are prematurely terminated within the first six months of employment. Additionally, it is an offence for any employer or worker to use the services of an unlicensed EA.
  4. Having said this, there are also cases where foreign workers paid high agency fees to EAs in their home countries before coming to Singapore. Understandably, the Singapore government is able to regulate neither the foreign EAs, nor the fees charged overseas. Therefore, we have to leave it to the respective foreign embassies to combat any malpractices in their home countries. To this end, MOM shares with the foreign embassies relevant information obtained during the course of our investigations.

Regulate agents' recruitment fees
- The Straits Times, 21 December 2013

Ms Amelia Tan Tan's commentary ("Give more thought to providing social activities for workers"; Dec 11) was insightful. It said many foreign workers work 10 to 12 hours daily, six days a week, and earn around $700 a month. But the agents who arranged for them to come here get about $8,000 in recruitment fees for each worker.

This begs the question: Does the service provided warrant such a fee?

If the fee is indeed as excessive as it appears to be, then the authorities should require employers of foreign workers to engage only licensed agents who adhere to good practices, which include limiting the recruitment fee to a more reasonable amount.

The current system of employing foreign workers may be efficient, but we cannot allow agents to prosper excessively at the expense of migrant workers.

Can the Ministry of Manpower comment?