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Fri May 07 2021

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Singapore issues charges over poor housing for workers

10 Nov 17 A Singaporean man has been charged for housing people working on his company’s construction projects in overcrowded conditions.

Construction firm officer Li Dan was charged by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in relation to the accommodation provided to 18 foreign workers (FWs) employed by Shuang Lin Construction Pte Ltd. He was also charged for submitting false information in the Online Foreign Worker Address Service.

Li faced 18 charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA) for failing to provide approved accommodation that complies with the various statutory requirements. If convicted, he can be fined up to S$10,000 or be imprisoned up to 12 months or both, per charge. The accused company faces 22 charges under EFMA for providing false information on FW housing in the OFWAS. If convicted, the accused company can be fined up to S$20,000, per charge.

Li was the company’s officer in charge of FW accommodation. Investigations revealed that between October 2015 and July 2016, he arranged for the FWs to be housed at overcrowded premises at Upper Paya Lebar, MacPherson and Changi. These premises had exceeded the prevailing allowed occupancy load of eight occupants under Urban Redevelopment Authority’s guidelines. MOM ordered the company to relocate the affected workers to approved accommodation.

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Separately, between March 2016 and April 2016, the accused company furnished false addresses of 22 FWs to the Controller of Work Passes in the OFWAS. It declared that the FWs were staying at Tuas South Avenue, when they were not.

Under the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Work Passes) Regulations, employers are required to provide accommodation for their FWs that complies with the various statutory requirements. Employers who contravene any of the conditions of the work pass will be guilty of an offence under Section 22(1)(a) of the EFMA. On top of penalties imposed by the court, MOM will also bar errant employers from employing FWs.

Employers are also required to register or update their FWs’ residential addresses through OFWAS, within five days of the FWs moving to a new address.

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