To MP Louis Ng Kok Kwang's query in Singapore's Parliament around notifications sent by employers to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to reduce the salary of a work permit holder to below the amount stated on the in-principle approval (IPA) letter, Minister for Manpower, Josephine Teo has responded with the relevant data.

She has clarified: "In the past three years, MOM was notified of salary reductions affecting less than 2% of non-domestic work permit holders (WPH) per year. The median amount of salary reduction reported was $170 in 2017, $160 in 2018 and $100 in 2019. The median percentage of reduction reported was 20% in 2017, 22% in 2018 and 17% in 2019, compared to the initial salary declared."

To affirm, employers are not allowed to reduce the salary of their work WPHs below what was declared on the In-Principle Approval (IPA) letter unless they have obtained the workers’ written agreement and notified the Ministry beforehand.

Rest days for FDWs, and compensation in lieu

Another query related to IPA letters was raised by NMP Alethea Ong, who asked about IPA letters issued for foreign domestic workers (FDWs) with zero rest days declared.

To this, Minister Teo clarified that employers are required to provide their FDWs with a weekly rest day - unless an FDW agrees to work on her rest day, in which case the employer is required to provide compensation in lieu of the rest day.

"Based on information collected by MOM over the past four years, about 20% of FDWs agreed to be compensated in lieu for all their rest days at the point of work permit application," she provided, adding that FDWs and employers tend to subsequently make changes to the rest day arrangements based on mutual agreement. For example, some FDWs may wish to take more rest days per month after they have paid off their placement loan.

"Based on MOM’s survey with FDWs in 2015, 98% of FDWs surveyed had at least one rest day a month. This is consistent with a survey of FDWs conducted by the Centre for Domestic Employees in 2017, where 96% had at least one rest day a month."

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