Parliament: Employers given warnings for illegally deploying maids could be fined instead, under MOM review of guidelines

Currently, the fine for employers who illegally deploy their FDWs is up to $10,000.
Currently, the fine for employers who illegally deploy their FDWs is up to $10,000.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is reviewing its guidelines to see if employers who have received warnings for illegal deploying their maids to work at a different place should get a fine instead, said Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang on Thursday (Oct 15).

"This is so that employers will take their responsibility towards their foreign domestic workers (FDWs) seriously," she said in her reply to Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) in Parliament.

The ministry, however, has no plans to review the maximum penalty for the illegal deployment of FDWs, she said, adding that the number of such cases has remained relatively stable in the past few years.

The issue of illegal deployment of FDWs came under the spotlight after Indonesian Parti Liyani, a former domestic worker employed by Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong and his family, was acquitted in September of stealing from them.

Ms Parti had been told by Mr Liew's wife, Madam Ng Lai Peng, to go and help at the home of her son Karl. She said she also cleaned his office once a week for a year.

The ministry said it had consulted the Attorney-General's Chambers and, in May 2018, issued a caution to Madam Ng and an advisory notice to Mr Karl Liew.

An advisory notice is issued when the illegal deployment is not conclusively substantiated, while a caution, akin to a stern warning by the police, is issued when the ministry establishes that the illegal deployment is infrequent or took place over a short period of time.

The review of the penalty framework for employers who illegally deploy their FDWs was announced on Oct 5 by Ms Gan in Parliament.

Currently, the fine for employers who illegally deploy their FDWs is up to $10,000.

"While the current administrative financial penalty is capped at $10,000, the eventual penalty takes into consideration the severity of the infringement and number of counts the infringement was committed," Ms Gan said.

Between 2017 and 2019, 16 employers were fined each year, ranging from $3,300 to $24,000, she added.

She also said errant employers could be barred from hiring FDWs.

Asked by Mr Ng how long the review will take, and if non-governmental organisations will be consulted, Ms Gan said the review is under way and that the ministry is consulting various parties, including employers and centres that take care of FDWs.

She added that the ministry welcomes input from other organisations or groups with views on the issue.