Photo of Lim Swee Say from thestraitstimes

According to Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say, around 350 cases of 1,400 Labour Court’s orders are ignored every year. The defaults happened mostly because of “financial difficulties” reported by the employers. In his written response to a question in Parliament, the Minister defended the employers who defaulted on the court’s orders:

“The 350 defaulted orders involved 200 companies which were mostly in financial difficulties or had ceased operations. MOM took enforcement actions against all of them which included warnings, fines and restriction of work pass privileges. About 25 employers were charged in court for more egregious offences each year in 2015 and 2016. Such offences carry a maximum fine of $15,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 6 months per charge.”

However there is no breakdown how many employers served imprisonment, and the Manpower Minister also failed to explain why enforcement of the Labour Court’s order falls under the responsibility of the worker.

You may view Minister Lim Swee Say’s full response here.

Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC) chairman, PAP MP Yeo Guat Kwang, expressed sympathy for the wayward employers saying:

“Those who do not comply with these orders – mostly related to salaries owed or injury compensation – often do not have the money to do so due to forces beyond their control. These employers harbour little or no wilful intention to short- change or exploit their workers. The very small group of employers with the means to pay workers, but who are wilfully non-compliant, is of greatest concern to the MWC. We call on the authorities to take stern action against them.”

The PAP MP said that he proposed to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to monitor and enforce the injuries compensation. MP Yeo Guat Kwan said that the MWC have been helping the workers to get back owed salaries from their employers, and also gave them lodging and goodwill payments between S$1,000 to S$3,000.