SINGAPORE: From 2018 to 2020, 11 Employment Pass and S Pass holders working in the Infocomm Technology (ICT) industry were found to have submitted false qualifications to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), said Manpower Minister Tan See Leng on Monday (Aug 2).
Their work passes were revoked and they were permanently barred from working in Singapore.
Dr Tan was replying to parliamentary questions from MP Gan Thiam Poh (PAP-Ang Mo Kio) who asked how many Employment Pass and S Pass holders in the ICT industry have submitted fabricated or forged education qualification certifications in the past three years.
He also asked if MOM reviews and works with only reputable overseas educational institutions with a proven track record for approval of work pass applications.
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Dr Tan said all employers have the primary responsibility to ensure the authenticity and quality of their candidates’ qualifications when submitting work pass applications.
MOM also conducts additional checks by screening the qualifications submitted through its database of institutions and it will reject applications with fake or unaccredited qualifications.
"This database is regularly reviewed through our scan of open source reports and research from third-party screening organisations," said Dr Tan.
"For applications containing qualifications from institutions not in our database, we require employers to submit verification proof from third-party screening organisations to ensure the qualifications submitted are accredited."
He added that MOM takes a "firm stance" against foreigners who submit false qualifications to fraudulently obtain work passes.
MOM may also prosecute offenders for false declaration under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, which carries a fine of up to S$20,000, up to two years’ jail, or both.
Last month, two work pass holders were jailed for submitting false qualifications from Manav Bharti University. One more person has been charged while 19 others holding degrees from the university have been permanently barred from working in Singapore.
MOM had previously said that over the last five years, an average of 660 foreigners per year have been banned from working in Singapore for submitting fake education qualifications in their work pass applications.
MOONLIGHTING WORK PASS HOLDERS
The ministry also responded to a question by MP Louis Chua (WP-Sengkang) on how it enforces the restrictions on work pass holders who work part-time other than for their designated employer.
Mr Chua asked for the annual number of cases of work pass holders found to be working for more than one employer at the same time over the last five years and the penalties for the employers and employees.
He also asked in a supplementary question how MOM's processes have evolved in the last five years, saying: "A recent example would be the KTV cluster where a number of them would have committed offences under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act."
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Senior Minister of State for Manpower Koh Poh Koon said that between 2016 and 2020, MOM issued warnings to an average of 160 work pass holders each year who were in illegal employment.
"All of them were debarred from working in Singapore," said Dr Koh.
MOM receives complaints, tip-offs, and referrals from members of the public as well as other public agencies on possible illegal employment of work pass holders, Dr Koh said.
It also carries out inspections based on the ministry's analysis and triggers to detect possible illegal employment of work pass holders, he added.
Work pass holders in illegal employment face a fine of up to S$20,000, two years' jail, or both. MOM will also bar them from working in Singapore.
Employers who hire any foreigners without a valid work pass will face a fine of up to S$30,000, a jail term of up to 12 months, or both. Their work pass privileges will also be suspended.
Dr Koh said that there are also efforts to educate foreign workers in Singapore to help them understand what constitutes illegal employment or violation of their work permit conditions.
"If we do have enforcement actions being taken, especially against companies that were egregious, we do publicise them on mainstream media as well as on online social media platforms because this raises awareness and serve as a deterrence to other would-be offenders," he said.