Employment agency owner fined $8,500 for bringing in two maids aged 15 and 18

SINGAPORE - Despite knowing that maids have to be interviewed and screened upon arriving in Singapore, the owner of a maid agency here failed to do so.

As a result, AG Employment Agency's sole proprietor Sherlyn Tay, 43, ended up bringing in a 15-year-old and an 18-year-old to work as maids earlier this year. Ministry of Manpower (MOM) guidelines state that maids should be at least 23 years old.

Tay was fined $8,500 on Thursday (Dec 6) for failing to exercise due diligence in ensuring the maids she brought in met the minimum age for foreign domestic workers, despite repeated reminders from the MOM.

In June and October this year, the two teenagers approached an agent in Myanmar, named Esther, to help them find employment as maids in Singapore.

Esther took a video of each of the two, after instructing them on what they had to say in the video. Aside from declaring that they were single, Christian and not afraid of dogs, both women were told to say they were 24 years old.

However, one was in fact only 15, while the other was 18.

Esther also arranged for new passports for the two women, which contained false dates of birth. The videos were then sent to Tay, who found prospective employers for the women and proceeded with applications for them to be employed as foreign domestic workers.

The court noted that the MOM had previously sent out several messages reminding employment agencies of the minimum age for maids, and cautioning employment agencies against relying solely on the passport and educational certification of maids.

In the messages, employment agencies were reminded to conduct screenings to examine if the physical appearance, mannerisms and speech of maids reflected the age they claimed to be, and to interview them on their family history, educational history and work experience in order to verify their age.

Despite being aware of all this, Tay did not interview either of the two, instead choosing to send them immediately for medical check-ups and an orientation programme.

It was at this orientation programme that the two were suspected of being underage. They were subsequently interviewed by MOM officers. After further investigations, the ruse was exposed.

Tay pleaded guilty to two counts of breach of employment licensing conditions in court on Thursday.