SINGAPORE: An employment agency has been fined S$5,000 breaching employment agency licence conditions by deploying a 14-year-old foreign domestic worker (FDW).
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said in a press release on Friday (Jun 15) that Casa Employment Specialist pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that a FDW met the minimum age requirement of 23 years old.
This was detected in July last year, when the 14-year-old Myanmar national disclosed her actual age to officers at the MOM Services Centre.
Casa had done nothing to verify her age through its own due diligence checks, relying solely on information provided by the overseas agent, MOM said.
After this was discovered, the teenager's work pass application was rejected and she was sent home. She was also barred from working in Singapore until she reaches the minimum age of 23 years old, the Manpower Ministry added.
The employment agency was charged in May, along with 35-year-old Khor Siew Tiang - the sole proprietor of Vista Employment Services - who was also accused of bringing in an underaged FDW in a separate case.
Director of MOM's Well-Being Department Jeanette Har said Casa's conviction serves as a "wake-up call" to all employment agencies to take their legal obligations seriously.
"MOM will continue to do our checks, and employment agencies who neglect their duty of care to their clients will be severely dealt with," she added.
In the last three years, MOM has taken enforcement action against 98 employment agencies for failing to ensure that the FDWs they place met the age requirement, the ministry said.
In the press release, MOM stressed that all employment agencies have a legal responsibility to ensure that FDWs they bring into Singapore meet entry requirements.
Errant agencies face a range of penalties, from demerit points and licence suspension, to prosecution and licence revocation for "egregious cases"., the ministry said, adding that these offenders will also be permanently barred from conducting business in the industry.
It also urged employers to be vigilant when selecting FDWs and clarify with employment agencies if they have doubts of their helpers’ ages or other credentials.
If employers suspect that an FDW recommended by an employment agency is not at least 23 years old, they should not engage the employment agency’s services and instead report the agency to MOM, it said.
Members of the public can report breaches of employment agency licence conditions to MOM confidentially by calling +65 6438 5122 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.