Parliament: Some 20 per cent of foreign workers live in quarters at construction sites

SINGAPORE - Most foreign workers live in purpose-built dormitories but around 20 per cent - or 70,000 - live on construction sites.

The figures were released on Tuesday in a written reply from Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin to Ms Irene Ng (Tampines GRC), who had asked about foreign worker living quarters on construction sites.

Mr Tan said there are benefits to housing workers at or close to their workplaces, as it reduces the need for transport.

"This could provide workers with more time to rest outside of working hours, reduce traffic congestion and crowding, and hopefully also enhance workers' productivity," he added.

All workers' quarters on construction sites must meet safety requirements set by the Building Construction Authority, Singapore Civil Defence Force and National Environment Agency, he said.

Recent reports showed that construction site or factory-converted quarters tended to be dirtier and not as well-maintained.

Mr Tan added that about 900 premises have been inspected each year over the past three years.

An employer faces fines of up to $10,000 and/or jail for up to 12 months for every worker found housed in non-approved accommodation.

These penalties were doubled two years ago. Errant employers will also be barred from applying for new work passes or renewing existing ones.

Mr Tan added that his ministry will soon propose new legislation on regulating and licensing purpose-built dormitories.