SINGAPORE - An employment agency posted insensitive advertisements online, showing maids who had been hired as "sold".
SRC Recruitment was the first firm to plead guilty to posting insensitive advertising, breaching regulations laid out by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in its Employment Agency Licence Conditions.
SRC Recruitment was fined $78,000 on Tuesday (April 30) after pleading guilty last month to 45 charges, which included initiating the advertisements that cast foreign domestic workers (FDWs) in an undignified light.
Another 99 charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.
The insensitive advertisements, which appeared at online marketplace Carousell, gave the impression that maids were commodities who could be bought.
For instance, the posts contained a price column and when a maid was selected, the advertisement would indicate below her photograph that she had been "sold".
Employment agencies have to operate according to Employment Agency (EA) alerts, which are official messages the MOM sends out regularly to such firms.
Its prosecutor Vala Muthupalaniappan said the alerts stress the need for agencies to refrain from "insensitive advertising" that cast FDWs in an "undignified light".
She added that the ministry sent out the alerts on three occasions: July 16, 2014; Nov 18, 2016 and Feb 2 last year.
In mid-August last year, one of SRC Recruitment's employees Erleena Mohd Ali, 41, set up a Carousell account under the profile name "maid.recruitment" which was linked to her work e-mail address.
Ms Vala said: "The purpose of setting up the account was to post the biodata of the available Indonesian FDWs for potential employers to view.
"Erleena sought the permission of the key appointment holder of the accused company, Koh Seng Yeow... Koh informed Erleena that he had no objection to her posting on the Carousell website."
Erleena then posted the advertisements, casting the maids "in a manner akin to commodity that could be bought and sold", Ms Vala said.
Erleena was fined $20,000 last November and no longer works for the firm.
The court heard that SRC Recruitment had also failed to ensure its full name and licence number were displayed on its Carousell posts.
The requirement is a necessary safeguard against unlicensed employment agencies, said Ms Vala.
"This would not only allow potential employers to know and verify that the employment agencies they are intending to engage are indeed licensed, but also ensures the FDWs themselves are able to verify with MOM that the employment agencies are bona fide," she added.
In a statement on Tuesday, the ministry said SRC Recruitment has been given notice that its licence would be revoked.
Commissioner for Employment Agencies Kevin Teoh said the ministry does not condone any offensive and insensitive advertising methods that portray FDWs in a negative light.
"We remind all EAs of the need to uphold professional standards when discharging their duties'' or risk losing their licence, he added.
Companies that flout the conditions of their Employment Agency Licence can be fined up to $5,000 for each charge.