WE REFER to senior correspondent Radha Basu’s commentary (“$1.50 an hour is just too little for anyone”; Sunday).
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) protects foreign workers against employers who unilaterally reduce their salaries from what were declared in the In-Principle Approval letters without first obtaining the workers’ express written consent and notifying the ministry of the reduction.
Such employers may be fined up to $10,000 per infringement under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act. We similarly prohibit Singapore employment agencies from overcharging.
The Employment Act gives freedom to employers and workers, whether local or foreign, to terminate their employment contracts. They may do so by serving notice or compensating the other party with salary in lieu of notice.
Foreign workers must be paid their outstanding salaries before they are sent home.
Also, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority refers workers, who alert its officers that they still have outstanding employment-related issues, to MOM for assistance. There were 23 such referrals from January to November last year, among the 7,000 foreign workers with difficulties we helped.
As your writer noted, the MOM allows foreign workers with employment-related claims a window to change employers on a case-by-case basis. We take into account factors such as the nature of the claims and duration of employment here.
If the worker had resigned of his own accord, is it reasonable to expect his employer to shoulder the upkeep and maintenance for 60 days? If not, should these costs then be borne by Singapore taxpayers?
Your writer is aware that the MOM had announced its intention to mandate itemised payslips in two years. To facilitate this, a set of tripartite guidelines for the issuance of itemised payslips has been developed and issued.
We have legislation backed by enforcement to protect the well-being of foreign workers here.
We urge the public and non-governmental organisations to bring to the MOM’s attention any errant employment practices, so that we can investigate and take action.
There is no doubt that abuses exist and there is always room for improvement. But many foreigners will not continue to want to come here to work if the allegations are as widespread as claimed.