Forum: Single employer ensures clear responsibility to work pass holders

Forum: Single employer ensures clear responsibility to work pass holders
An elderly woman with her domestic helper in Toa Payoh on Jan 14, 2020.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

We thank the various writers for their feedback on the matter of foreign domestic workers (FDWs) being allowed to work part-time.

A foreigner can work in Singapore only if there is an employer willing to undertake responsibilities such as timely payments of salary, prevention of work injuries, provision of medical care and eventual repatriation when the work pass is cancelled.

We require all work pass holders, including FDWs, to work for only their designated employers so that there is no dispute over who is responsible for the worker. This clarity is critical to safeguard the workers' interests and prevent problems for the broader community.

While we understand some work pass holders may wish to earn more through extra work, this can have unintended consequences for them and their employers. Work pass holders, therefore, cannot take on additional jobs or engage in activities to earn additional income here. They should instead consider if the salary offered by their employer is acceptable before taking up the job in Singapore.

In the case of FDWs, we are also concerned about the impact on their well-being and ability to perform their duties. Instead of working as FDWs, those with capacity to do more can consider working for companies that specialise in house-cleaning or care services, where they have potential to earn overtime pay, subject to statutory safeguards being met. Likewise, employers should avail themselves of such services if they prefer not to have a full-time FDW, instead of procuring services illegally from other FDWs in Singapore.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) takes a serious view of illegal employment. Between 2017 and last year, MOM took more than 30 FDWs to task each year for working illegally. About half of these cases involved FDWs engaging in non-domestic work such as selling items in public areas or referring other FDWs to take up loans from moneylenders.

MOM investigations also probe into whether any other parties, such as cleaning agencies, facilitated the FDW's illegal employment. No action is taken against FDW employers if the investigation shows that they were not involved.

Jeanette Har

Director, Well-being Department

Ministry of Manpower

First published on OCT 3, 2020, by Straits Time