SINGAPORE: A yearly average of 16 employers were fined over the last three years for illegally deploying their foreign domestic workers, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in a statement on Tuesday (Sep 8) night.
The ministry said that it took action against a yearly average of 155 employers during this period. Among these, 60 were issued advisory notices and 80 given caution notices.
About 16 each year were issued with financial penalties ranging from S$3,300 to S$24,000, said MOM.
An advisory notice is issued where the illegal deployment is "not conclusively substantiated" and serves to remind employers of their legal obligations under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act and the Employment of Foreign Manpower Regulations.
READ: Timeline: How former maid Parti Liyani was acquitted of stealing from Changi Airport Group chairman's family
A caution, which the ministry said is akin to a stern warning by the police, is issued when MOM establishes that the illegal deployment is infrequent or took place over a short period of time.
"The caution sends a strong message to employers that they must comply with the law or face stronger enforcement action," said MOM.
The ministry said it takes a "stern view" of cases where foreign domestic workers are deployed to participate in non-domestic work or to work in commercial premises, regularly and over a long period of time.
It would be "especially egregious", it said, if the workers are overworked and not provided with adequate rest.
Their employers can be issued with fines of up to S$10,000 per count and they will also be debarred from hiring foreign domestic workers, said MOM.
MOM's statement came after Ms Parti Liyani - the Indonesian maid who had been accused of stealing from her former employer Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong - was acquitted of her charges.
Ms Parti started working in the main Liew household in 2007 and was fired in 2016.
The case surfaced accounts of Ms Parti being deployed to work in the home and office of Mr Liew's son, in addition to her employer's home, which contravenes MOM regulations.
MOM said that at the conclusion of its investigations and after consulting the Attorney-General's Chambers, it issued a caution against Mrs Liew and an advisory notice against Mr Karl Liew in May 2018.
No prior complaints were lodged with MOM against any of the parties involved, the ministry added.
550 CASES OF COMPLAINTS YEARLY ON ILLEGAL DEPLOYMENT
The ministry said that between 2017 and 2019, it received an average of 550 cases of complaints yearly on the illegal deployment of foreign domestic workers by their employers or household members.
This makes up 0.2 per cent of the more than 236,000 foreign domestic worker employers in Singapore.
The ministry said that of these cases, 76 per cent were surfaced by third parties while 24 per cent were surfaced by the workers themselves.
"A good number of FDWs (foreign domestic workers) 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," said MOM.
The authorities said every allegation is "treated seriously and looked into". But with most of the cases, when the ministry clarified further with the workers, it was learned that they had been deployed with their charges - such as children or elderly people - to close family members to provide care to their charges.
This is permitted, said MOM, so long as the workers accept the arrangements, are not required to perform the household chores of two families and their wellbeing is still taken care of.
"To avoid any misunderstanding or dispute, employers should work out a mutually agreed job scope with their FDWs," said MOM.