Comprehensive framework to ensure foreign workers' well-being

We are heartened by the concerns of Dr George Wong Seow Choon (Legislation needed to take care of foreign workers; Nov 29) and Mr Jeffrey Law Lee Beng (Do more to protect those who report errant employers; Nov 29).

We agree that our foreign workers deserve a safe and fair environment to live and work in.

This requires the Government, employers, accommodation providers, employment agencies and the foreign workers themselves to play their parts.

We have progressively strengthened our laws and policies governing the fair treatment of foreign workers.

In addition to a safe work environment, employers are required to provide their work permit holders with upkeep and acceptable accommodation.

Employment agencies owe a duty of care to the foreign workers whom they place, and are prohibited from overcharging.

Accommodation providers such as dormitory operators are also required to abide by standards on sanitation, space norms and amenities like Wi-Fi.

In the past five years, about 40 employment agencies have been prosecuted or issued with composition fines or warnings for overcharging.

Over the same period, about 160 employers have been prosecuted for salary non-payment, and 26 for providing substandard accommodation to their foreign workers.

Coupled with a robust inspection regime, complaints on housing conditions have decreased from about 580 in 2014 to about 440 in the first 11 months of the year.

In the past five years, about 40 employment agencies have been prosecuted or issued with composition fines or warnings for overcharging.

Over the same period, about 160 employers have been prosecuted for salary non-payment, and 26 for providing substandard accommodation to their foreign workers.

Foreign workers must play their part too.

They have multiple channels to report employment issues, and should do so as early as possible.

Since the setting up of the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management in April, we have assisted more than 2,000 foreign workers to recover their unpaid salaries in full.

Foreign workers who are being sent home before their claims are settled can inform our immigration officers at the checkpoints, who will assist in referring them to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

Foreign workers are informed of this right when they arrive here.

Action will also be taken against employers who attempt to send their workers home without settling all outstanding claims.

We work closely with non-governmental organisations like the Migrant Workers Centre to ensure that the well-being of foreign workers is not compromised during the claim period.

We also work with partner agencies to help take care of our foreign workers' social needs.

We have facilitated the setting up of dedicated foreign worker recreation centres, which provide alternative gathering spots and amenities for their use.

The MOM is committed to protecting the rights and interests of all workers.

Those with information on illegal recruitment and workplace practices can call MOM on 6438-5122 or e-mail mom_fmmd@mom.gov.sg

All information will be kept strictly confidential.

Kevin Teoh

Divisional Director

Foreign Manpower Management Division

Ministry of Manpower

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 11, 2017, with the headline 'Comprehensive framework to ensure foreign workers' well-being'. Print Edition | Subscribe