IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? The Ministry of Manpower has successfully prosecuted two employers for making false statements on work pass applications and their two foreign workers for carrying out activities that did not match the occupation detailed in their passes.

What does the change mean? Employers – including individuals who hire domestic workers, as in this case – should be aware that making a false statement on a work pass application is an offense under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act and that the ministry is aggressively pursuing prosecutions for such violations.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work passes.
  • Who is affected: All employers applying for work passes, including individual employers.
  • Business impact: Employers who make false statements may be fined up to $20,000 and jailed for up to two years per violation; those who employ foreign workers without a work pass face fines up to $30,000 and up to one year in prison.
  • Next steps: Employers should review their policies to make sure they are in compliance. Expatriate employees hiring foreign domestic workers should also be aware that they are subject to prosecution for false statements on work pass applications or other violations of the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.

Background: The case involved two Singaporean sisters who each hired a foreign national. Their work pass applications stated that the employees would be performing domestic housework, but in fact the sisters intended to hire them as beauticians. The Ministry secured convictions against the sisters for making false statements and against the two workers for false statements and carrying out duties that did not match those that were listed as the occupation on the pass. The sisters were fined $15,500 and $16,000 respectively, and the workers were fined $11,500 and $8,000 respectively.

BAL Analysis: Employers are reminded that the Ministry of Manpower takes false or misleading statements on work pass violations seriously and has stepped up prosecutions in this area. All information declared in an application should be accurate. Particular attention should be paid to the declaration relating to the occupation and the salary. The occupation listed in the work pass applications should match the foreign worker’s job description and duties. The salary information should meet the ministry guidelines of base monthly salary and fixed monthly allowance. BAL recommends that the employment contract reflect salary information in case the ministry requests supporting documentation. Employers who violate these rules not only face fines and imprisonment but will be banned from hiring foreign workers. Repeat offenders face imprisonment.