While the majority of agencies inspected were found to be compliant with the EA, 36% were found to have breaches, albeit minor ones.
Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has charged two private security companies under the Employment Act (EA) for having their employees work excessive hours.
Between April 2021 to August 2021, MOM inspected close to 200 private security companies for compliance with the EA, with a focus on working hours and overtime limits. While the majority of agencies were found to be compliant with the EA, 36% were found to have breaches, albeit minor ones. In total, MOM is taking action against 15 private security agencies for deploying their security officers beyond the permissible working hour limits.
Details on the two agencies which have been charged
In particular, security officers from Erawan Security and Volantra Security had worked back-to-back shifts on multiple occasions between February and March 2021, working between 17 and 20 hours in a day. Per statutory law, private security agencies must not deploy their security officers to work beyond 12 hours in a day, subject to exceptions mentioned in the EA.
Employers caught flouting provisions under Part IV of the EA, which provides for rest days, limits on hours of work and other conditions of service, may be prosecuted and fined up to S$5,000 for each offence. On conviction of the second and subsequent offence, the employer can be fined up to S$10,000, or imprisoned for a term not exceeding 12 months, or both.
These inspections were not the only efforts MOM carried out to improve wages and well-being of security officers. In November 2017, the Government accepted recommendations from the Security Tripartite Cluster1 to remove overtime exemption for the security sector from January 2021. The security industry was no longer exempted from the EA limits of 72 overtime hours per month from 1 January 2021, in hopes of reducing the overtime hours worked by security officers.
MOM’s Director of Employment Standards Enforcement Department, Christine Loh asserts: “The Ministry of Manpower is committed to safeguarding the welfare of all workers. As we continue to educate employees on their rights, we will also carry out regular site inspections and take stern action against errant employers found to be flouting the law.
"Security agencies should refer to the Tripartite Advisory on Ensuring Sustainability of Security Sector in View of COVID-19 to plan ahead, and leverage technology-enabled solutions to optimise manpower.”
1 The Security Tripartite Cluster comprises of representatives from the unions, employers, services buyers and the Government.
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