While laws capping fees that locally licensed agents can charge are good, employers of non-domestic foreign workers typically circumvent this by not using Singapore-licensed agents (MOM: Early reporting of errant employers sees better outcomes, by the Ministry of Manpower; Aug 26).
Instead, workers are hired through foreign brokers, who charge recruitment fees that equal as much as two years' salary.
Many workers inform us that a portion of those fees ultimately flows to their employers.
Kickbacks remain common. While we commend the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for taking to task those who have been caught so far, there are many more cases that are hard to prove.
It is not necessary for the MOM to interfere in other countries' jurisdiction to tackle this problem. The Internet can offer a solution.
All employers of non-domestic work permit holders can be required to advertise vacancies on a central, non-profit portal, with terms of employment clearly stated.
Allowing prospective workers the opportunity to directly submit their applications will eliminate the need for middlemen.
Requiring all hiring to be done through the portal shuts the door to circumventing the system.
If any employer demands payment from the prospective worker for the privilege of a job, we can deem that demand to have been made within Singapore's jurisdiction, since it would have been in conjunction with a job advertised on a Singapore-based portal.
As for salary-unpaid workers getting a chance at a new job, the MOM's reply describes the moves it has made, namely, referrals to the Singapore Contractors Association and Migrant Workers' Centre.
However, it does not address the question of effectiveness.
Transient Workers Count Too's observation is that very few of these workers succeed in landing new jobs, which suggests that these measures are not working.
The MOM, citing the "diverse needs of employers", wants to keep the door open to hiring fresh new faces.
But all employers have to hire from limited pools.There is no need to let contractors and other employers choose from the hundreds of millions in India, China or Bangladesh when there are unemployed foreign workers right here in Singapore.
Transient Workers Count Too