FOREIGN WORKERS EMPLOYMENT LAW
Singapore – Stiffer penalties should be set in place for employers who flout the law in employing foreign workers, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has proposed.
According to a statement by the ministry, employers could be tempted to get around the rules and potentially hire more foreign workers than allowed as the country’s foreign-labour policies tighten, The Straits Times reported. This could reduce job opportunities for Singaporeans and give errant businesses an unfair advantage.
MOM said it wants to raise penalties and introduce minimum fines for some offences. For instance, illegally employing foreign workers will incur a minimum fine of $5,000. There is no minimum fine at the moment, while the maximum fine may double from $15,000 to $30,000.
The ministry said it also plans to reclassify some less-serious offences as regulatory breaches. Currently, all infringements of the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act are deemed as criminal offences.
MOM also proposed to make some general-type offences stand-alone infringements. These include the act of making CPF contributions to “phantom” local workers to artificially boost the number of home-grown staff in order to be eligible to hire more foreigners.
Foreign workers, who make up 36% of Singapore’s labor force, will also face heavier penalties if they break the law. A fine for working without a valid pass may be raised to S$20,000, up to 24 months in jail, or both.
Alex Yam, Chua Chu Kang GRC MP, who had raised worries about errant employers during the Budget debate, said the review is timely.
“The proposed improvements to the Act should not be taken as being targeted against employers but to ensure that workers get a fair deal,” he said.
MOM is seeking public feedback on the proposed changes to the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act. A public consultation document with the proposed changes will remain on the Reach website until 31 May.
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