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Measures in place to deal with errant employers and help workers

  • The Straits Times (16 February 2018): Make Singapore a better place for foreign workers

Measures in place to deal with errant employers and help workers
-The Straits Times, 5 March 2018 

  1. We refer to Mr Jeffrey Law’s letter, “Make Singapore a better place for foreign workers” (16 Feb 2018). 
  2. We agree that errant employers who do not pay their workers should be taken to task. Failure to pay salaries could result in employers being fined up to $15,000 and/or jailed for up to six months.
  3. Today, our laws also require employers of Work Permit Holders to pay salaries electronically if the workers make this request. We will be stepping up efforts to create awareness amongst foreign workers that if their employers fail to do so after workers’ request, they should report to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
  4. MOM takes a tough enforcement stance against employers who wilfully fail to pay salaries to their workers, regardless of the mode of salary payment. MOM and the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management have assisted more than 3,500 workers to recover their salary arrears from 1 April to 31 December 2017.
  5. MOM already imposes travel restrictions on serious offenders who pose high flight risk, while MOM investigates the offences under our employment laws. The instances of employers absconding before paying owed salaries is therefore very low. In most instances, the employer had already absconded before the claimant lodged a claim with MOM. This underscores the importance of reporting owed salaries as soon as possible. Early reporting is the best thing that foreign workers can do to improve their chances of recovering their salaries.

Make Singapore a better place for foreign workers
-The Straits Times, 16 February 2018

  1. More punitive action should be taken against non-Singaporean bosses for absconding without paying their workers (Left in the lurch when foreign bosses disappear; Feb 12).
  2. The Migrant Workers' Centre's initiative to assist new foreign workers in setting up bank accounts for electronic payment of salaries is laudable as it will reduce cases of non-payment.
  3. With this mode of payment, workers will find it easy to keep track of their salary payments and, more importantly, seek prompt advice when any discrepancy in payment arises.
  4. The law should come down hard on bosses who fail to comply with workers' requests to be paid electronically as there is no reason for them not to do so.
    Absconding employers should be subjected to travel restrictions and barred from re-entering Singapore.
  5. Singapore should be a place for migrant workers to not only earn a living but also upgrade their skills and learn new things.
  6. This will benefit the organisations they are working for here, and also help them secure alternative employment once they return to their homelands, instead of going back to work as farmers and fishermen, as some might.