SINGAPORE: Local cupcake chain Twelve Cupcakes was fined S$119,500 on Tuesday (Jan 12) for underpaying seven employees of about S$114,000 over two years.
The homegrown brand, which was founded by former DJ Daniel Ong and Jaime Teo in 2011 and later bought over by India-based tea company Dhunseri Group, had pleaded guilty in December to 15 charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.
Another 14 similar charges were taken into consideration.
The judge agreed with the prosecution that the offences were difficult to detect, as demonstrated by the considerable amount of time during which they were committed, and the company made substantial profits as a result.
However, he also noted that the company has repaid the employees the salaries they were owed.
The offences were carried out between December 2016 and November 2018 under the new owners, against seven foreign employees who had been promised fixed salaries of between S$2,200 and S$2,600.
The employees included sales executives, customer service executives and a pastry chef, who had been issued S-Passes to work for the company. However, they were given between S$200 and S$1,200 less than the agreed salaries.
Under the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Work Passes) Regulations 2012, employers must pay no less than the fixed monthly salary due to the foreign employee for the month, and payment must be made no later than seven days after the end of the salary period.
The company took further steps to conceal the latter part of its offending by crediting the agreed salaries to the employees' accounts then asking them to return the difference in order to avoid a paper trail.
The crimes were uncovered when the Ministry of Manpower received information on contravention of labour laws and carried out investigations in December 2018.
The defence had alleged that the new owners were only carrying on a practice that had been installed by previous management.
Ong and his then-wife Teo were charged in court with similar offences a few weeks after a representative for Twelve Cupcakes pleaded guilty.
Their cases are pending. If found guilty of contravening work pass conditions, Ong and Teo could be jailed for up to a year, fined up to S$10,000 or both per charge.