The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has announced last Oct 7 (Sunday), that starting 01 January of 2019, employers will no longer be allowed to hold on to any money which belongs to Foreign Domestic Workers (FDWs), including their salaries.
The new work permit condition, as per the MOM, aims to protect both employers and FDWs from issues arising from money-related matters.
MOM Announces New Policy regarding the Handling of FDW’s Money by Employers in SG
The MOM also noted that the Centre for Domestic Employees, a National Trades Union Congress’ (NTUC) initiative, which advocates the rights and fair treatment of all domestic workers in Singapore, had recommended for employers not to handle or keep any money belonging to FDWs earlier this year.
Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower Low Yen Ling shared, “We are aware that employers safe-keep their FDWs’ money for a number of valid reasons which include doing so at the request of their FDWs. However, such arrangements may inadvertently lead to disputes.”
With the MOM prohibiting this kind of set-up where money is involved, the interests of both parties will be protected, Yen Ling explained.
Risks and Challenges
The Ministry also recognizes that there are certain risks and challenges experienced by both employers and FDWs in the above-cited set-up.
FDWs who do not have ready access to their own money will have to approach their employer every time to request for the money they entrusted to them whereas employers may also have difficulties keeping track of the actual amount of money to be returned to FDWs.
In such circumstances, there is also the risk of poor or faulty documentation which could put employers at a situation which invites unwarranted claims from their employees who may not be comfortable asking for their money to be returned.
The Solution: Electronic Payments
At a press meeting, the MOM brought up the possibility of using electronic payments for employers to address this issue as it provides easy access, transaction, and monitoring of salary records.
In line with this, the MOM also reminded employers that it is important to settle their employees’ wages in full and in a timely manner. Minding all points identified, the MOM suggested for employers to help new FDWs apply for a bank account within the Work Permit issuance period.