Three employers charged for failing to pay salaries and another charged for providing false information


Three directors were charged in the Subordinate Courts today for failing to pay salaries to their workers as stipulated under the Employment Act (EA). Another director was charged for providing false documents and statements to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). Details of the persons charged and their offences are at PDFAnnex

A.Cases involving failure to pay salaries

Ong Jeau Leang and Oi Leng Li
MOM initiated investigations on RPM Media Pte Ltd (RPM Media), after the company failed to pay salary arrears owed to its employees despite orders from the Commissioner for Labour. RPM Media was owned by Mr Ong Jeau Leang, who allegedly owed about $35,000 in salary to eight employees. Mr Ong was also the director of Apex Media Pte Ltd, which allegedly owed close to $3,000 in salary to one employee.

Mr Ong’s wife, Mdm Oi Leng Li, was the director of Eventus Inc Marketing Pte Ltd, which allegedly owed close to $2,500 in salary to one employee. Aside from this, Mdm Oi was also the director of MMX Publishing and Media Boys Pte Ltd. She was convicted of offences related to non-payment of salary in 2012, in her capacity as director of these two companies.

Borhan Bin Saini
Another director, Mr Borhan Bin Saini was also charged for failing to pay salaries to his employees. Please refer to Annex A for further details on their offences.

Case involving the provision of false documents and statements
In a separate case, a director of OTS Cleaning Pte Ltd, Mr Sam Oh Tiong Li, has been charged with furnishing false documents and providing false statements to a MOM investigating officer. The offences allegedly took place during investigations after MOM conducted a proactive inspection of the employment conditions in OTS Cleaning Pte Ltd.

Employers should ensure they do it right
Employers have the legal responsibility and moral obligation to ensure that employees’ salaries are paid on time. They must also be familiar with their obligations under Singapore’s employment laws, including the EA, Employment of Foreign Manpower Act and Central Provident Fund Act.

Employers are further reminded to cooperate with MOM by providing authentic copies of supporting documents during the course of MOM’s investigations. MOM will not hesitate to take stern action against errant employers who flout or disregard our employment laws.

Workers or members of the public can call 1800-221-9922 or email workright@mom.gov.sg to report cases of non-compliance with the stated Acts. All calls and emails will be kept strictly confidential.

Source: MOM Press Release on 18 July 2013


Five Companies Convicted of Providing Unacceptable Accommodation- First Case in 2013


MOM slaps 218 charges on accused companies for accommodation and salary offences

30 May 2013

Five companies were convicted in the Subordinate Courts on 28 May 2013 for failing to provide acceptable accommodation for their foreign workers (FWs). The companies were also found guilty of failing to update their FWs’ addresses in the Online Foreign Worker Address System (OFWAS), as well as paying FWs their salaries on time. They pleaded guilty to 44 charges collectively for the housing, OFWAS and salary offences, and were fined a total of $80,000. 174 charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.

Charges and Penalties
Information on the penalties meted out to the five companies for each of the offences is presented in Table 1 below:

Table 1: Sentence imposed by the Court on the Five Accused Companies
charges

Of the 218 charges, 68 were related to unacceptable accommodation and OFWAS offences under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA), while the remaining were for failure to pay salaries on time under the Employment Act (EA). Please refer to Annex for the full breakdown of categories of the charges proceeded and taken into consideration against each company.
Upon conviction, MOM will also bar the five companies from hiring new FWs or renewing the Work Passes of existing workers.

Case Details
Investigations revealed that during inspections conducted on 12 April last year, the premises in Tuas where the FWs were living in were not authorised for use as workers’ dormitories. They were also overcrowded, crammed and dirty. Besides insufficient toilets, overflowing rubbish bins and infestations of rodents and cockroaches, there was also no proper emergency exit route at the dormitories. MOM ordered the companies to relocate the affected workers to approved accommodation immediately following the inspections.

With the exception of Yong Soon Shipbuilding Pte Ltd, the other four companies had also failed to update OFWAS when their FWs were relocated from Sungei Kadut to the illegal dormitories in Tuas in 2011.

In addition, investigations also showed that the five accused companies failed to pay the basic salaries of the FWs on time. The salaries owed to workers have since been recovered.

Employers are Required by Law to Provide Proper Housing for their FWs
Under the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Work Passes) Regulations, employers are required to provide acceptable accommodation that complies with the various statutory requirements for their FWs. Employers must also register or update their FWs’ residential addresses through the OFWAS within five days of commencement of employment, or when there is a change in the workers’ residential addresses.

Any change in the address should be accurately and promptly updated. Under the revised EFMA, employers who contravene any of the conditions of the work pass, shall be guilty of an offence under Section 22(1) (a) of the EFMA, and shall be liable to a fine of up to $10,000 and /or 12 months imprisonment for each offence.

In the first four months of 2013, MOM conducted about 300 inspections, and took action against 428 employers for housing violations. They were either warned, offered composition or charged in court. Last year, MOM conducted 865 housing inspections and dealt with 1,062 employers for housing their FWs in unacceptable conditions.

MOM will Intensify Inspections to Enforce the Employment Act
From November 2012, MOM has stepped up enforcement against Employment Act violations. The number of inspections that will be conducted to detect Employment Act violations will be increased ten-fold, from around 500 to 5,000 a year. In 2012, 170 employers were either warned, offered composition or charged in court. Greater emphasis would be placed on ensuring compliance of the Employment Act among the employers.

Advisory from MOM
Workers who are housed in unacceptable accommodation should approach MOM for assistance by calling 6438 5122. Members of the public who have information on unacceptable accommodation can also alert MOM by providing specific details such as the address, number of workers, brief description of the living conditions, and where possible, take photos, and email the details to mom_fmmd@mom.gov.sg. All information will be kept strictly confidential.

Under the Employment Act, employers are required to pay salaries to their FWs within seven days after the end of a salary period. MOM reminds all employers that they have the responsibility to pay workers’ salaries on time, and will not hesitate to take stern actions against employers who flout our employment laws.

Workers who have salary issues can contact MOM’s Labour Relations & Workplaces Division by calling 6438 5122 or emailing mom_lrwd@mom.gov.sg

Source: MOM website Press release on 30th May 2013


12/27/2012Amelia Tan, Straits Times, 27 Dec 12

Ensuring worker dormitory are A-OK


news-2

Building Construction Authority(BCA) officer Ms Ivy Chia visits worker dormitory with Mr Henry Wong, Dormitory Manager with Vobis Enterprise Pte Ltd on a weekly basis to ensure that the worker dormitory overseen by BCA meets the requirements setforth by the relevant authorities.

EVERY day, Building and Construction Authority (BCA) officer Ivy Chia travels all over the island checking the living conditions at foreign worker dormitories.

Ms Chia, who is in her 30s, is one of seven officers who inspect the 25 purpose-built dorms overseen by the authority. She gives feedback to operators to improve dorm cleanliness and safety.
BCA and Manpower Ministry (MOM) officers, who conduct checks on accommodation for foreign workers, told The Straits Times that their inspections are thorough and regular.

Mr Alan Lum, who heads MOM’s Housing Enforcement Branch, said these inspections help ensure that dormitory operators toe the line. He claimed that even illegal dorms are now being run on a smaller scale because operators know inspections are frequent and they can be caught easily.

“Up to a few years ago, we would find about 1,000 workers in an illegal dorm, but now about 20 and 40 workers are found in such places,” he said.

Statistics back up observations that standards are improving. From January to October, 648 employers were served warning letters for providing unacceptable housing for their foreign workers, down from 886 last year and 1,591 in 2010.

A total of 91 errant employers were fined as of October, down from 180 last year, and 226 in 2010.
Employers can be fined up to $10,000 or jailed for up to 12 months, or both, for each foreign worker who is housed in unacceptable conditions.

Besides the MOM and BCA, other government agencies, such as the National Environment Agency, also conduct regular checks at such worker quarters.
They ensure that the accommodations meet requirements for land use, structural integrity, fire safety, hygiene and sanitation.

The 25 dorms overseen by BCA are inspected at least four times a month by its officers. Their checks are unannounced. Each inspection takes about two or three hours, depending on the size of the dorm. Dorms usually accommodate 3,000 to 9,000 workers.

The Straits Times accompanied Ms Chia on an inspection of Cochrane Lodge 1 at Admiralty Road West, which houses about 5,000 construction workers.

Together with the dorm’s assistant manager, Mr Henry Wong, Ms Chia combs the common areas, such as the kitchens, toilets, corridors and rooms, to check if they are clean and that refuse has been disposed of properly. She also checks if amenities such as taps and showers are working well. They enter the rooms of workers who are present to check that they are neat and if there is any uneaten food which could attract pests.

Ms Chia approaches some workers and asks to look at their work permits to ascertain that they are not here illegally.

She photographs problem areas and submits a report summarising her observations, noting areas in need of improvement on BCA’s online system.

The report will be viewed by her supervisors and the dorm operators, who will also receive automated email messages daily from the BCA to remind them of the deadline to rectify problems. MOM’s housing enforcement team conducts regular checks on foreign workers’ living quarters in a similar way.
Its team of more than 20 inspectors scrutinise factory-converted dorms and residential premises such as shophouses about two or three times a week.

These inspections are part of regularly scheduled checks as well as in response to tip-offs from the public and workers. They are usually done by a team of about five inspectors at night and last until the wee hours of the morning. The ministry also organises major joint inspections about once a month with other government agencies such as the police to crack down on areas known for poor living conditions such as Little India and Geylang.

These inspections usually involve over 50 officers from the various agencies. MOM senior housing enforcement inspector R. Ganesh said he needs to be observant and thorough to do his job well. He remembers walking past a factory in Sungei Kadut last year which had few windows and little sign that workers were living inside. He decided to enter it anyway as he and his colleagues had already covered the other factories on the same street. They found 26 workers living in the poorly ventilated warehouse on rickety makeshift beds.

Dormitory operators said these inspections keep them on their toes.

Said Cochrane Lodge’s Mr Wong: “We are checked about three times a week by the various government agencies and they come at any time of the day.

“It can be quite stressful. But it also means that we are meeting the standards.”


01/01/2013Admin

Worker Dormitory Operator organises Event for Workers staying in Worker dormitory Singapore


Ensuring that our residents are happy and comfortable here is one of our Top Priorities.

We are aware of the tremendous emotional strain felt by many foreign workers in a foreign land. Therefore, we furnished our dormitories with recreational facilities to help residents relax and mingle. We also provide a safe and secured place for foreign workers to stay in.

A country with happy citizens are unlikely to have much social problems.

In the same way, we believe that having happy foreign workers at the dormitory will encourage them to stay clear of crime. At the same time, happy residents are likely to to use the facilities with more care, treating the dormitory as if it is their Home. This is in line with our values of providing foreign workers a Home Away From Home experience. We organise yearly dormitory events at the worker dormitory including badminton tournament, the hot favourite among the foreign workers- kapadi and Mr Mandai- body building contest. This is the first year our Mandai Lodge is holding events. The event at our Mandai Lodge – Mr Mandai is the body building contest. In Dec 2012, we crowned our very own Mr. Mandai. <h2>Presenting to you, our very own Mr Mandai. </h2>


12/17/2012Channel News Asia

Dorm operators form association to raise standards- Dormitory Association of Singapore Limited (DASL)


Published on Dec 17, 2012

SINGAPORE: Foreign workers’ dormitories in Singapore could be accredited from next year, as the industry rolls out plans to raise dormitory standards and living conditions.

DASL

The newly formed Dormitory Association of Singapore is putting the scheme in place after releasing a set of benchmarks for dormitory housing on Monday.

The association represents 11 owners and operators of foreign workers’ dormitories, which collectively provide more than 100,000 bed spaces or 70 per cent of dormitory spaces in Singapore.

There are 39 approved commercial dormitories for foreign workers as of November 2012.

The benchmarks aim to improve the living conditions in dormitory housing. They cover general living facilities, sanitation, storage and cooking facilities.

The benchmarks were drawn up by the association, the Migrant Workers’ Centre and authorities.

Within the next three to six months, the Dormitory Association of Singapore plans to accredit accommodations which adhere to these standards, with the support of the Manpower Ministry and the Migrant Workers’ Centre.

The association’s secretary-general Simon Lee said he hopes authorities will consider using the accreditation scheme as a licensing condition for all operators.

“Hotel operators need a hotel licence to operate. Dormitory operators currently don’t. They do need to meet all the authorities’ regulations, but the management of it is actually up to individuals. So we hope that in time to come, we would have some scheme in place to actually let the industry know that this is the standard,” he said.

The association added that those accredited would be able to reap benefits such as the pooling of resources.

Other than the regular monitoring of dormitories, chairman of the Migrant Workers’ Centre Yeo Guat Kwang said that it is important the association targets smaller operators as well.

The group also plans to work with the authorities to get more land for housing.

“At the moment, roughly, we are able to meet the needs for accommodation for work permit holders. The plan for the future will depend very much on whether the number of foreign workers increases substantially,” said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower Hawazi Daipi.

Meanwhile the National Development Ministry said it will launch new dormitories, depending on the immediate and longer-term demand for foreign worker housing.

The new dormitories will also be more self-contained and have a more conducive living environment.

The ministry said this in response to queries from Channel NewsAsia on the Dormitory Association of Singapore’s goal to work with authorities to get more land to build more dorms for workers.

The ministry said there is still strong demand for dormitories. But the speed at which new dormitories can be launched and completed depends on a number of factors.

These include land availability and the time required to prepare the site and infrastructure.

It said that since 2007, the government has been launching new sites for purpose-built dormitories to meet the demand for foreign worker housing.

There are now over 150,000 foreign workers living in such dormitories.

Besides purpose-built dormitories, the ministry said, employers also have other options to house their workers. These include converted industrial properties and workers’ quarters in construction sites.

Such premises must comply with requirements to safeguard the well-being of workers, before they can be used as foreign worker housing.

Source: Channel News Asia