The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Tuesday (8 Sept) said it takes a “stern view” of cases where foreign domestic workers are deployed to participate in non-domestic work or to work in commercial premises regularly and over a long period of time.
This came after the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) withdrew its fifth charge against an Indonesian domestic worker Parti Liyani on Tuesday, which is equivalent to a full acquittal.
Ms Parti was previously found guilty in the State Courts of stealing over S$34,000 worth of items from her former employer, the Changi Airport Group (CAG) chairman Liew Mun Leong and his family.
AGC noted that one of Justice Chan Seng Onn’s – who overturned her sentence – findings was that there was reason to believe that the Liew family took the pre-emptive step to abruptly terminate Ms Parti’s employment and without giving her sufficient time to pack, so that she would not use the time to make a complaint to MOM about her illegal deployment to work for Mr Liew’s son, Karl Liew.
MOM earlier on (6 Sept) said that Ms Parti made a report of illegal deployment by her employer’s spouse Mrs Liew, to Mr Karl Liew’s residence in Oct 2017. The deployment was carried out between September and October 2016, and to his office around 2012 and 2013.
It then issued a caution to Mrs Liew and an advisory to Mr Karl Liew at the conclusion of the investigation in May 2018, adding that it is in consultation with the AGC as to whether further action, if any, ought to be taken in this case.
Meanwhile, in a statement yesterday, MOM said that employers who are found to be involved in the illegal deployment of foreign domestic workers can be fined up to S$10,000 per count and banned from hiring migrant domestic workers.
The Ministry indicated that it would be “especially egregious” if the workers are overworked and not getting adequate rest.
It explained that a yearly average of 16 employers have been fined in the past three years for illegally deploying their foreign domestic workers, and they were issued with financial penalties ranging from S$3,300 to S$24,000.
Actions were taken against 155 employers on average a year during the three-year period, in which 60 were issued advisory notices and 80 given caution notices.
According to MOM, an advisory notice is issued where the illegal deployment is “not conclusively substantiated”. It serves to remind employers of their legal obligations under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act and the Employment of Foreign Manpower Regulations.
A caution is comparable to a stern warning by the police, said MOM, which would be issued when MOM verifies that the illegal deployment is infrequent or took place over a short period of time.
“The caution sends a strong message to employers that they must comply with the law or face stronger enforcement action,” MOM stated.
Additionally, the Ministry received a yearly average of 550 cases of complaints between 2017 and 2019 related to the illegal deployment of foreign domestic workers by their employers or household members.
These complaints make up 0.2 per cent of the over 236,000 foreign domestic worker employers in the city-state, in which 76 per cent were surfaced by third parties while 24 per cent were surfaced by the workers.
MOM reassured that each allegation will be “treated seriously and looked into”.
“A good number of FDWs [foreign domestic workers] who alleged illegal deployment had left employment when they reported the matter to MOM. Some of them requested for assistance to return home with others requested to be allowed a transfer of employment,” it asserted.
However, the Ministry found that – upon clarification with the workers – in most cases, the workers had been deployed with their charges – such as children or elderly people – to close family members to provide care to their charges.
MOM noted that this is permitted if the workers accept the arrangements, are not required to perform the household chores of two families and their wellbeing is taken care of.
“To avoid any misunderstanding or dispute, employers should work out a mutually agreed job scope with their FDWs.”
Netizens ask why Liew Mun Leong wasn’t fined or banned from hiring FWDs, as he was involved in the illegal deployment of Parti Liyani
Penning their thoughts on Channels News Asia’s and Mothership.sg’s Facebook post – which covered the news – many netizens questioned MOM’s “stern view” on Ms Parti’s complaints about her illegal deployment to work for Mr Liew’s son, Karl Liew. The deployment was reportedly carried out between September and October 2016, and to his office around 2012 and 2013.
While others noted the existence of “double standards” in the justice system.