SINGAPORE: Two employment agencies were charged on Thursday (May 24) in separate cases of breaching employment agency licence conditions by deploying underage foreign domestic workers (FDW).
In a press release, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said employment agency licensee, 35-year-old Khor Siew Tiang, had failed to ensure that a FDW met the minimum age requirement of 23 years old. Khor is also the sole proprietor of Vista Employment Services.
The other employment agency charged was Casa Employment Specialist.
Investigations revealed that between June and July 2017, Khor and Casa had failed to ensure that two FDWs from Myanmar met the minimum age requirement.
The Myanmar nationals were detected at the MOM Services Centre where they subsequently disclosed their actual ages as 13 years old when interviewed by MOM officers.
MOM revoked both their applications to work locally and issued directions for Khor and Casa to send the two underage FDWs back to their home country. They were also both barred from seeking employment in Singapore.
The cases against Khor and Casa have been adjourned to Jun 14 for a Further Mention.
If found guilty, they each face a fine of up to S$5,000, six months’ imprisonment, or both. On top of court-imposed penalties, MOM can also revoke their employment agency license and forfeit their security deposit.
Both employment agencies have also been served with notices of license suspension.
MOM reminded employment agencies to exercise their duty of care towards their clients and take additional steps to verify the ages of the FDWs.
Additionally, MOM said FDWs are notified of Singapore’s entry requirements prior to their arrival through the In-Principle Approval letter in their native language.
“Upon arrival, all first-time FDWs are required to attend the mandatory Settling-In Programme (SIP) and will be informed of the consequences if they are found to be underage,” MOM said.
Detection of underage FDWs also takes place at the SIP training centre and at the MOM Services Centre.
MOM added that in the last three years, it has taken enforcement action against 98 employment agencies for failing to ensure that FDWs, who came to Singapore for work through their agencies, met the age requirement.
“We urge employers to be vigilant in their selection of FDWs,” MOM said.
“They should clarify with their EAs if they have doubts of workers’ age or other credentials. An FDW requires the maturity and ability to cope with work and stress, or she may not be able to care for the young and/or old placed under their charge.”
If employers suspect that an FDW recommended by an employment agency is not at least 23 years old, they should not engage the agency’s services and should make a report to MOM.
This article was originally published on CHANNEL NEWS ASIA.