The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said it takes a "stern view" of foreign domestic workers being deployed to participate in non-domestic work or to work in commercial premises regularly and over a long period of time.
Employers can fined up to S$10,000 per count and banned from hiring foreign domestic workers (FDW), said MOM.
If the workers are overworked and not provided with adequate rest, it would be "especially egregious", the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday night, Sept. 8.
16 employers fined a year on average
On average, 16 employers a year were fined over the last three years for illegally deploying their foreign domestic workers, MOM said.
They were issued with financial penalties ranging from S$3,300 to S$24,000.
On average, MOM took action against 155 employers on average a year during the three-year period.
Some 60 were given advisory notices and 80 sent caution notices.
Advisory vs. caution notices
An advisory notice is issued where the illegal deployment is "not conclusively substantiated".
It serves to remind employers of their legal obligations under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act and the Employment of Foreign Manpower Regulations.
A caution is comparable to a stern warning by the police, MOM said.
It is issued when the ministry establishes that the illegal deployment is infrequent or took place over a short period of time.
MOM said: "The caution sends a strong message to employers that they must comply with the law or face stronger enforcement action."
550 complaints a year
MOM received an average of 550 cases of complaints yearly on the illegal deployment of foreign domestic workers by their employers or household members between 2017 and 2019.
These complaints make up 0.2 per cent of the more than 236,000 foreign domestic worker employers in Singapore.
Some 76 per cent of the complaints were surfaced by third parties, while 24 per cent were surfaced by the workers themselves.
MOM said every allegation is "treated seriously and looked into".
MOM said: "A good number of FDWs who alleged illegal deployment had left employment when they reported the matter to MOM."
"Some of them requested for assistance to return home with others requested to be allowed a transfer of employment."
Care for family members in another household is permitted
However, the ministry learned upon clarification with the helpers that most cases involved the helper being deployed with children or elderly people to close family members to provide care to their charges.
This is permitted, MOM said.
However, the arrangements have to be accepted by the workers who are not made to perform the household chores of two families.
The workers' well-being must also still be taken care of.
MOM said: "To avoid any misunderstanding or dispute, employers should work out a mutually agreed job scope with their FDWs."
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