Two new Bills introduced in Parliament yesterday could see errant employers defaulting on wages and CPF payments facing jail time and stiffer fines.

Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin presented the proposed changes to the CPF (Central Provident Fund) Act and Employment Act (EA).

In a statement, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) stated if the Bill is passed, it would mean “employment inspectors will be granted the power to arrest any person whom he reasonably believes is guilty of the failure to pay salary”. Additionally, they will “also be allowed to enter any place of employment to conduct audits”.

Employers who are late with CPF payments or default on them could be jailed for up to six months, fined up to $5,000, or both, in the first instance. The minimum fine will be at $1,000. Currently, the fine stands at $2,500.

Repeat offenders may be jailed for up to 12 months, or fined up to $10,000, or both, and the minimum fine is $2,000.

Under the proposed changes, employers who fail to pay staff’s salaries could be fined up to $15,000 for first time offenders – three times the current now – and up to $30,000 for repeat offenders.

The minimum fine will be $3,000 for first time offenders and $5,000 for repeat offenders, and they will be liable for jail for up to six and 12 months, respectively.

“The proposed amendments will help to ensure better protection for more workers and improve employment standards, while allowing flexibility for employers. Measures are also proposed to enhance enforcement and ensure compliance with the EA to protect the interests of employees,” MOM said.