We all know how easy it is to game MOM’s foreign worker quota restrictions. One of the easiest, is to ask the employees to declare a fake salary and get them to pay you back the money under the table.
One such company is Lian Lee Wooden Case Maker Co. Pte Ltd.
Ng Boon Cheng, 55, the Managing Director of the firm was charged on the 11th of October for receiving kickbacks from foreign workers as a condition for their continued employment with the company.
20 foreign workers hired by the firm were made to contribute a portion of their salary. The company received S$105,235 in total. Ng faces jail term of up to two years and/or fined up to S$30,000 each office. A permanent ban by the Ministry of Manpower could also be served.
Yeo Guat Kwang, Chairman of the Migrant Worker’s Centre spoke harshly on the conduct of Ng. “The collection of kickbacks, or the requiring of payments of money (whether up front in cash, or through subsequent deductions to salary) from migrant workers in return for application or renewal of work permits or any other employment benefit or opportunity is exploitative and must be universally rejected,” said Yeo.
He also urged the authorities to step up enforcement effort and to strengthen punishment to include mandatory imprisonment, based on the significant hardship and stress caused to victims of this serious offence.
The workers in this case are protected by the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act. The MoM has the power to collect the money owed to the workers and return it to them. Without the law, the workers would have a much harder time claiming their money. This would have to be done through lengthy processes in the civil courts through equitable mechanisms.
Don’t try to cheat the system – it would turn out more unprofitable in the long run.