SINGAPORE: An employment agent who took to online marketplace Carousell to advertise maids on behalf of her agency SRC Recruitment was on Tuesday (Nov 13) fined S$20,000.
Erleena Mohd Ali, 41, is the first to be prosecuted for putting up placement postings online. Erleena, who is now unemployed, worked at the agency from June 2017 and mostly handled Indonesian maids, the court heard.
She would usually advertise the biodatas of the maids on the Netmaid website, but in August this year, she started an account on the Carousell site under the profile name “maid.recruitment” which was linked to her work email.
According to court documents, she sought permission from SRC's management to source for potential employers through Carousell and was given the green light.
“The accused then posted the available foreign domestic workers for selection by prospective employers on Carousell with details that would cast the foreign domestic workers in a manner akin to a commodity that can be bought and sold,” Ministry of Manpower (MOM) prosecutor Vala M said.
She put up the posts from Sep 1 to 17 this year. On Sep 17, MOM carried out investigations upon receiving information.
Erleena was found guilty of 10 charges under the Employment Agency Licence Conditions, for insensitive advertising that cast foreign domestic workers in an undignified light and failing to ensure that the full name and licence number of her agency was stated when advertising. Eighty-nine other similar charges were taken into consideration.
The court heard that MOM sent three Employment Agency alerts in 2014, 2016 and 2018 stating that employment agencies should refrain from insensitive advertising that casts maids in an undignified light.
The one in 2016 specifically mentions that MOM is aware that some agencies use websites like Carousell and Gumtree.
“The Ministry considers such advertisements unacceptable and Employment Agencies should cease the practice with immediate effect. All postings on these commercial sites should be removed,” it said then.
Such alerts are typically sent by email to maid agency employees.
In seeking a S$20,000 fine, the prosecution said a strong deterrent message needs to be sent to other employment agencies.
In mitigation, Erleena, who was not represented, said that she is unemployed, supporting her elderly parents and two of four children.
Erleena could have been fined S$5,000 and jailed for up to six months for each charge.