IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? The Ministry of Manpower has convicted a Bangladeshi national for conducting employment agency activities without a valid license. The man was fined 30,000 Singapore dollars (about US$22,300) and also faced two charges of instigating foreign workers to make false statements to a ministry employment inspector by telling the workers not to reveal that he collected agency fees from them.

What does the change mean? Employers are reminded that foreign workers must not be involved in unlicensed employment agency activities. Employers and foreigners seeking employment should only use a licensed employment agency and verify it through the Ministry of Manpower’s employment agency directory. Work pass holders who break the law will not only face stiff penalties, but will also be discharged from work and have their work passes revoked.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits.
  • Who is affected: Foreigners and employers using employment agencies in Singapore.
  • Business impact: If an employer hires a foreigner involved in unlicensed employment agency activities, the employee’s work pass will be revoked and the employee could face employment debarment.
  • Next Step: Employers should be sure that they and their foreign employees only work with employment agencies who hold a valid license.

Background: From 2015 to the first half of 2017, the ministry convicted 15 individuals for conducting employment agency activities without a valid license. Offenders may be fined up to SG$80,000, imprisoned for up to two years, or both, per charge. In the case involving the Bangladeshi worker, the convicted individual collected SG$30,900 in agency fees for sending copies of workers’ passports and biodata to a hiring company, for forwarding the in-principle approval and security bond letters to successfully hired foreign workers on behalf of the company, and for arranging for a foreigner to attend a job interview.

BAL Analysis: The ministry is actively investigating and prosecuting individuals for various employment agency violations, some involving work permit holders. Employers are encouraged to emphasize in company policies that employees are to comply with Singapore’s labor regulations.