A 53-year-old Singaporean, Pang Sor Tin, has been convicted in Singapore's State Courts on 14 November 2017 of three charges under the Employment Act, according to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

There are two companies involved in the charges - Pang is the manager of funds of Stepping Stones Academy (which provides childcare services for pre-school children), as well as financial controller of OSAC International College (a commercial school offering higher education programmes).

Investigations across the two companies revealed that 10 local employees were owed salaries totalling more than S$67,000. The accused pleaded guilty to three charges and was fined S$10,500. Another nine charges were taken into consideration for the purposes of sentencing.

About the cases

Seven employees of Stepping Stones sought the assistance of the Education Services Union (ESU) for payment of their final month’s salaries, which further assisted the employees to report the matter to MOM.

The Assistant Commissioner for Labour ordered that S$51,845.60 be paid to the employees. Stepping Stones failed to comply with the order by the stipulated date and MOM commenced investigations thereafter. Although Pang eventually arranged for Stepping Stones to make payments under the order, MOM continued its investigation and in May 2017, charged Pang with seven counts of failing to pay the total salaries due to these employees on their last day of employment, under the Employment Act.

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Alongside, three OSAC employees were not paid their salaries in February and March 2017. MOM acted on complaints and investigated the company in April 2017. Although Pang eventually arranged for OSAC to make payments to these employees, MOM continued its investigation. In September 2017, Pang was charged with five counts of failing to pay salaries within the stipulated deadline, under the Employment Act.

In addition to the conviction of Pang, Stepping Stones and its directors Poh Ching Yee and Ong Ah Choo; and OSAC and its director Pang Yee Teck have been debarred from applying for or renewing the work passes of foreign workers.

Penalties and advisory

Under the Employment Act, the failure to pay salaries within the stipulated deadlines, can attract a fine of up to S$15,000, or imprisonment for up to six months, or to both, per charge.

Commenting on the case, Raymond Tan Choon Guan, director of employment standards enforcement said, "Employees’ chances of salary recovery are higher if they report early. In fact, in these two cases, all affected employees managed to recover their salaries in full. MOM will also not hesitate to prosecute employers who refuse to comply with the orders of the Assistant Commissioner for Labour, when they have the means to do so."

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