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Measures in place to ensure compliance with requirement

  • The Straits Times (19 June 2019): Stricter oversight on foreign worker documents needed

Measures in place to ensure compliance with requirement
-The Straits Times, 26 June 2019

  1. We agree with Mr George Pasqual (“Stricter oversight on foreign worker documents needed”, 19 Jun) that foreign workers should be provided with In-Principle Approval (IPA) letters by their employers, prior to departure for Singapore.
  2. This is why the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has instituted a stern, maximum financial penalty of $10,000 on errant employers who fail to send the IPA letters to their workers prior to their departure from their home countries, and barred them from employing foreign workers in future. 
  3. Since October 2018, new foreign construction workers have been required to produce their IPA letters when attending the mandatory Settling-in Programme (SIP).  MOM issued advisory letters to 60 employers whose foreign workers did not have or had incomplete IPA letters during the SIP. In May 2019, five employers and an employment agency were also investigated for failure to provide IPA letters in full prior to the worker’s departure from Singapore.
  4. These efforts have been shown to be effective. From February to April 2019, 97% of new foreign construction workers had their IPA letters when they arrived in Singapore.
  5. When the SIP is extended to new foreign workers in the Process, Manufacturing and Marine Sectors by end of this year, the SIP will be an effective touch-point to ensure foreign workers receive their IPA letters.
  6. Foreign workers who do not receive their IPA letters should report the matter to the Migrant Workers’ Centre, which conducts the SIP, or approach MOM by calling 6438 5122. 

Caryn Lim (Ms)
Director, Planning and Organisation Development
Foreign Manpower Management Division
Ministry of Manpower

Stricter oversight on foreign worker documents needed
- The Straits Times, 19 June 2019

  1. It was reported that about 15 per cent of non-Malaysian work permit holders in a recent survey said they did not receive their in-principle approval (IPA) letter before taking up employment in Singapore (More foreign workers unsure of pay on arrival, June 10).
  2. This situation is untenable.
  3. An IPA contains the terms and conditions of a worker's employment, including his basic salary. Under the law, employers are required to mail the IPA to the worker after his work permit application has been approved before he leaves for Singapore. It serves as a de facto contract, and employers can be fined up to $10,000 if they fail to provide the IPA to their workers.
  4. It appears there are some lapses in the regulatory process by the various agencies overseeing the employment of foreign workers.
  5. Migrant Workers' Centre chairman Yeo Guat Kwang said that some employers are not aware of this IPA requirement.
  6. This indicates a lack of appropriate communication and need for stricter enforcement by the Ministry of Manpower.
  7. It is understandable then that affected workers will not complain about salary disputes or work disagreements for fear of facing premature termination of their jobs, and being vulnerable to being sent home before managing to recover the debt they had incurred to work here.
  8. The IPA can protect them from such exploitation by employers if strictly enforced.

George Pasqual