SINGAPORE: There have been nearly 500 reports of private addresses being falsely registered as foreign workers' home addresses in the past five months, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Thursday (May 2).
It has received 489 reports of misused addresses since December, compared to fewer than 30 per year previously.
“The ministry has contacted each of these home owners to rectify their residential records and block their addresses to prevent further misuse,” MOM said in response to queries from CNA. “All the employers and workers involved have been or are being investigated.”
As of Apr 24, a total of 19 employers have been fined for “failing to exercise supervision over their foreign workers’ place of residence and for providing false address information”.
MOM has also revoked the work permits of 13 workers for abetting their employers in providing false addresses and banned them from working in Singapore.
Some of the employers had deliberately entered false addresses to circumvent housing requirements, after housing their workers in overcrowded units or unapproved factory premises, MOM said.
There were also cases of workers who had sourced for their own accommodation and deliberately provided false addresses to their employers, as they were residing in overcrowded units.
A minority of cases were due to “genuine administrative errors” by employers while registering the addresses, such as entering the wrong unit number.
REPORTING FOREIGN WORKER HOUSING VIOLATIONS
The ministry's statement comes after a condominium resident posted on Facebook in April that he discovered five individuals registered under his residential address after accessing the Foreign Worker Tenant Enquiry Service (FWTES).
“I was confused because I didn't rent out my house or room to anybody,” Mr Ruzaidie Dar Surnik, 41, told CNA. “I was also shocked because these people could use others’ residential addresses anyhow.”
Mr Ruzaidie, who works as a senior executive in the education industry, also wrote in his post that he was worried his address would be used for illicit activities like loansharking.
FWTES was launched in December last year to allow those who have rented out their homes to easily check the names of work pass holders registered as living at their addresses. It also allows home owners to remove the names of those who have moved out.
The ministry said it conducts regular inspections to ensure that private residential addresses declared by employers are accurate. “Through these inspections, MOM detected that private homes’ addresses were being used to register as foreign workers’ residential addresses without the home owner’s knowledge,” it added.
More than 2,000 employers and 1,000 foreign workers have been taken to task in the last three years for providing false addresses or for failing to update the addresses of their foreign workers, MOM said.
It stressed that employers have an obligation to ensure their foreign workers’ accommodation meet regulatory requirements, and to report the addresses of their workers accurately.
“Employers remain accountable when their workers source for their own accommodation, and must verify that the addresses provided by the workers are correct,” it added. Verification includes physically visiting workers’ residences and checking signed tenancy agreements.
The ministry said it will continue to reach out to Management Corporation Strata Title bodies (MCSTs) in private residential properties to inform residents about the FWTES. Those whose addresses have been misused should immediately report to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr Ruzaidie, whose case is under investigation, said the five individuals have been removed from his address. He has also filed a police report.
Ms Jeannette Har, director of the ministry's foreign manpower management division for well-being, encouraged other home owners to come forward if their addresses have been misused. “Home owners are best placed to inform us if foreign workers are indeed staying at their property, and they can now do so easily online via the FWTES,” she added.
The service will be fully rolled out by the end of this year, along with SMS or email alerts to notify home owners whenever a work pass holder is registered to be living at their properties.
There will also be a new feature to allow home owners to “delist” their properties if they have no intention of renting them out to foreign workers.