SINGAPORE: A woman who failed to provide a safe working environment for her two maids and employed them as a scaffolder and maintenance worker illegally was fined S$46,000 in total on Wednesday (Aug 8).
Willow Phua Brest, 46, pleaded guilty to four charges of breaching work permit conditions and a charge of illegal employment on Tuesday. Five other similar charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.
All the offences took place in October last year, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said in a news release.
Phua had permitted her maids to clean the windows' exterior at the two-storey bungalow at Cluny Park on four occasions.
The maids had to stand on a 7m-tall L-shaped scaffold that was erected outside the bungalow's main building to reach the windows, which did not have grilles installed.
MOM said that such acts should have been undertaken by service providers instead, and that Phua had endangered the maids' life by permitting them to carrying out those acts.
Phua also failed to provide a safe working environment for the maids and did not take necessary measures to ensure their safety, the ministry added.
The maids, who had been employed to carry out household chores, were also told to work as a scaffolder and a maintenance worker without valid work permits in the same month, said MOM.
One of the maids had raised concerns that it was dangerous to climb onto the scaffold to work, but Phua persuaded her to carry out the tasks, said MOM.
Both maids have since been stopped from working for Phua by MOM. One of the maids has been placed under the temporary job scheme and works for a new employer, while the other has returned home.
MOM director of well-being Jeanette Har said that the case was "egregious".
"Lives and limbs are at stake here ... The risks are real and obvious but the employer was oblivious to them," she said.
Phua could have been fined up to S$10,000 and jailed 12 months for each charge of failing to ensure the work safety of domestic workers.
For illegal employment, Phua could have been fined up to S$30,000 and jailed up to 12 months. Offenders will be barred from hiring domestic workers in future as well.