22 Dec 2005

Singapore amends Employment Agency Rules

When Singapore amends the Employment Agency rules so soon after the Human Rights Watch report it does seem to undermine the Minstry of Manpowers claim that the report was grossly exaggerated and a misrepresentation.

Then again it could be a matter of saying one thing and doing another. The retort will of course be that the changes are not as a result of outside interference from western do-gooders.

Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced Thursday that it has amended the Employment Agency (EA) Rules to tighten regulations on such agencies.

Under the amended Rules, an offense may be compounded with a composition amount of up to 2,000 Singapore dollars (about 1,200 US dollars).

"This new regulation affords MOM greater flexibility to penalize EAs which breach the provisions of the EA Act and Regulations," the ministry said in a statement.

The Rules prohibit employment agencies, which have received notice from the authorities announcing the intended revocation of their licenses, from collecting deposits from customers.

The MOM also announced that it has revoked the license of Grand Pacific Manpower Consultancy for its repeated breaches of related regulations including not providing acceptable housing for foreign domestic workers and withholding their passports.

The license of another employment agency has been revoked and renewals of 10 other licenses have not been approved by the MOM since January 2004, according to the statement.

"The Ministry will not hesitate to revoke the licenses of EAs whose practices undermine the integrity of the workpass framework or compromise the welfare of foreign domestic workers," the statement said.

In Singapore, there are about 500 employment agencies that place foreign domestic workers.

Earlier this month, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report entitled "Maid to Order: Ending Abuses against Migrant Domestic Workers in Singapore", which was claimed to be gross exaggeration and misrepresentation by the MOM.

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