13 October 2011

13 Arrested in Lucky Plaza Raid

13 October 2011

Acting on public complaints of possible illegal employment, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) conducted an inspection on 13 stores in Lucky Plaza on 25 September 2011.

MOM officers arrived on location and begun monitoring their targets. After ensuring that the premises were secured, MOM enforcement officers donned their MOM vests and sprung into action, conducting checks on 52 workers. Out of the 13 stores, employers of nine stores were found to have infringed conditions under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA) for suspected illegal employment, deployment and breach of work pass conditions.

MOM officers interviewing a suspected illegal worker at a hair salon

Thirteen foreigners were found working in retail outlets and hair salons without valid work passes. They included two Foreign Domestic Workers who were sent by their employers to work in their shops, as well as Social Visit Pass and Student Pass holders. MOM officers found that most of these workers obtained jobs through referrals from friends and relatives.

MOM inspection at a hair salon

When interviewed by MOM officers later, the majority of employers said they knew that they were committing an offence and were also aware of the penalties for illegal employment – yet they persisted.

MOM actively enforces against illegal employment/deployment and other work pass infringements. The Ministry is committed to bring employers and employees who flout the law to task, as such actions undermine the integrity of our work pass framework. Enforcement also serves as a strong deterrent to prevent others from following in their footsteps, thinking they can get away with such infringements. That is why MOM relies on intelligence, tip-offs as well as an on-going assessment of the foreign worker landscape, to cut the incidence of foreign employment malpractices in Singapore.

Two illegal workers detained by MOM officers for investigation

It is an offence for employers to hire workers without valid work passes. A foreigner, who holds a work pass, is only permitted to work for the employer, occupation and sector as specified in the work pass. This ensures accountability for the foreigner, employer and the Government. The law states that any person who contravenes the EFMA, is punishable with a fine not exceeding $15,000 and/or up to 12 months’ jail, or both. In addition, companies are also subjected to the EFMA and punishable with a fine not exceeding $30,000.

Last year, MOM prosecuted 108 employers for illegal employment/deployment offences, and arrested 1,038 foreigners for not working on valid work passes. In the first eight months of this year, MOM prosecuted 38 employers for the same offences.
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