Stricter oversight on foreign worker documents needed

A foreign worker at a construction site.
A foreign worker at a construction site. PHOTO: ST FILE

It was reported that about 15 per cent of non-Malaysian work permit holders in a recent survey said they did not receive their in-principle approval (IPA) letter before taking up employment in Singapore (More foreign workers unsure of pay on arrival, June 10).

This situation is untenable.

An IPA contains the terms and conditions of a worker's employment, including his basic salary. Under the law, employers are required to mail the IPA to the worker after his work permit application has been approved before he leaves for Singapore. It serves as a de facto contract, and employers can be fined up to $10,000 if they fail to provide the IPA to their workers.

It appears there are some lapses in the regulatory process by the various agencies overseeing the employment of foreign workers.

Migrant Workers' Centre chairman Yeo Guat Kwang said that some employers are not aware of this IPA requirement.

This indicates a lack of appropriate communication and need for stricter enforcement by the Ministry of Manpower.

It is understandable then that affected workers will not complain about salary disputes or work disagreements for fear of facing premature termination of their jobs, and being vulnerable to being sent home before managing to recover the debt they had incurred to work here.

The IPA can protect them from such exploitation by employers if strictly enforced.

George Pasqual

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2019, with the headline 'Stricter oversight on foreign worker documents needed'. Print Edition | Subscribe