Foreign workers generally satisfied with working conditions in Singapore: MOM survey

Migrant workers cheering during a stage performance at MWC Recreation Club @ Soon Lee on June 9, 2019, as part of the NTUC May Day Migrant Workers Celebration. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Migrant workers choosing clothes to buy from the Salvation Army at the MWC Recreation Club @ Soon Lee, on June 9, 2019. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Minister of State Zaqy Mohamad (centre) taking a wefie with MWC chairman Yeo Guat Kwang (second left) and MWC executive director Bernard Menon (left) and migrant workers, on June 9, 2019. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Foreign workers in Singapore are generally satisfied with their working conditions, according to a survey commissioned by the Ministry of Manpower, and would recommend the country as a place to work to their friends and relatives.

In the findings released on Sunday (June 9), most of the 2,500 work permit and 500 S Pass holders randomly polled cited good pay, good living conditions, as well as the safety and security of the country as key reasons.

The survey was conducted last year (2018) by Blackbox Research .

When asked for their overall assessment, 86.3 per cent of work pass holders and 87.5 per cent of S Pass holders said they were satisfied working in Singapore. This was similar to in 2014, when the survey was last conducted, in which 87.7 per cent of work pass holders and 90.7 per cent of S Pass holders said they were satisfied.

Some 84 per cent of work permit holders and 91 per cent of S Pass holders also said they would recommend Singapore as a place to work. In 2014, this was 85.7 per cent and 93.4 per cent respectively.

The top five reasons for this were cited as good pay, a safe and secure country, good living conditions, good working conditions and good prospects.

But there were areas of improvement.

For example, more non-Malaysian work permit holders said last year than in 2014 that they did not receive their in-principle approval (IPA) letter before arriving in Singapore.

This went up from 4 per cent in 2014 to 15.4 per cent last year.

Employers are required to to mail the IPA letters to workers, issued after work permit applications are approved, before they depart for Singapore. The letters contain the terms and conditions of their employment, including the basic salary, which means some workers arrived here last year not knowing what their terms were.

Furthermore, in October, the ministry introduced a Settling-In Programme (SIP), which requires foreign workers to have their IPA letters when they get to Singapore.

MOM said its checks found that 97 per cent of foreign workers had their letters by the time they attended the SIP between February and April this year.

Those who did not were given a copy by the Migrant Workers' Centre, it said.

"MOM will also investigate and take enforcement action against any employer and employment agency who does not send the IPA letter to the worker prior to his departure to Singapore.

"Failure to send the IPA letter is an infringement under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Regulations, and carries a maximum financial penalty of $10,000," the ministry added.

However, nearly half of respondents said they received an IPA that was in their native language, an increase from 21.3 per cent in 2014, while 36.3 per cent said they received it in English, compared with 74.7 per cent in 2014.

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