SINGAPORE - Newly arrived drafting engineer Aditya Dadhwal was keen to knuckle down to his new job here after landing from India last week, but he had one important step to complete first.
Mr Aditya, 24, had to attend a Settling-In Programme (SIP) run by the NTUC's Migrant Workers Centre on Monday (April 15) before starting at DJ Builder's Construction.
The one-day orientation aims to educate first-time foreign workers on their employment rights and obligations and on Singapore law in general.
The SIP, which is compulsory for all new non-Malaysian work permit holders in the construction sector, will be extended to the marine, process and manufacturing industries by the end of this year.
Mr Zaqy Mohamad, the Minister of State for Manpower, said on Monday (April 15): "Besides legislation and enforcement, education remains key to safeguarding the interest of foreign workers in Singapore."
The programme caters to 1,200 construction industry workers a month, a number predicted to rise by 1,700 following the new sectors additions.
The SIP has received positive feedback from both employers and the 5,000 or so workers who have attended the classroom based-orientation since it began last October.
Mr Zaqy said 90 per cent of employers have backed the SIP, despite it costing them a $75 fee for each employee.
Mrs Elango Rajalakshmi, a director of Elanta Engineering & Construction, said the SIP is very beneficial in helping her workers understand Singapore better.
Mr Zaqy also noted that 98 per cent of workers have found the initiative to be very useful.
Ms Chekkapalli Dinya, 26, an engineering trainee on a six-month work permit, said the course was helpful as it emphasised her employment rights "with more clarification and details".
Mr Aditya added that it addressed his queries such as whether working for two employers is legal.
The Straits Times was invited to attend a SIP session, which is capped at 20 workers to one trainer.
They were briefed on the terms and conditions of their In-Principle Approval letter - a practice that the Ministry of Manpower said has been effective in minimising salary disputes.
Other than covering basic employment rights, the course prepared workers for culture differences they may experience here. Legal advice was provided as well, from how to identify legal remittance providers to the maximum agency fee they are held liable for.
Workers were also informed about Migrant Workers Centre facilities, such as seven recreation centres, legal clinics and help kiosks.
Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, the Centre's chairman, noted: "Through the SIP, the migrant workers are assured that they can approach the MOM or (Migrant Workers Centre) for any assistance should they face any issues such as well-being and salary disputes".