Look beyond titles in salary disputes for foreign workers

I was relieved to read the High Court ruling that a Bangladeshi worker deployed as a site supervisor was not an executive and was entitled to pay rates for rest days he worked, as set out in Part IV of the Employment Act (Bangladeshi worker entitled to overtime pay; June 5).

Foreign workers play an important role in Singapore's construction industry and our laws have to protect them from unfair treatment by employers.

Migrant workers make huge sacrifices to come to Singapore to work. They work long hours hoping that their earnings can translate to better lives for their loved ones in their home countries.

The issue in the case of the Bangladeshi worker and the dispute on overtime rates payable was whether to categorise a site supervisor as a manager or executive, which would affect how much a worker is compensated.

If not addressed, it could leave open an avenue for abuse by unscrupulous employers who may deploy workers to executive positions so that they can make them work long hours without paying them overtime pay.

Labour officials should look beyond job titles when handling disputes involving cases of salaries and overtime claims for foreign workers. We must give foreign workers a fair environment to earn a living.

Dave Phua Peng Hwee