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I refer to the article, 95% of salary related claims resolved last year. Even though the Ministry of Manpower was able to resolve the cases of more than 9 out of 10 workers who had filed claims, HOME has received feedback from workers that they usually get a fraction of what they are entitled to under the Employment Act when their disputes are mediated.
Most workers are unwilling to pursue the full extent of their claims because this would mean having their disputes heard at labour court, which could take several months to up to a year to resolve. The longest case that HOME saw took two years. As workers are not allowed to work to fend for themselves and support their families while waiting, they accept much lower amounts so their cases can be resolved quickly.
The majority of workers who approach HOME have a salary complaint. In our report “Wage theft and exploitation among migrant workers in Singapore” we interviewed and surveyed 2009 workers who told us that they were either not paid, were paid less than what was contractually agreed, or had their wages unfairly deducted and withheld. Overtime, public holiday and rest day pay entitlements were routinely ignored by employers.
It was also revealed that MOM received 9,000 complaints in 2016 alone against 4,500 employers who failed to pay their workers, and there were 158 convictions over three years. This averages out to only 52 convictions a year, or 1.1% of employers who were complained against. We urge the Ministry to increase the number of prosecutions to strengthen deterrence.
With regard to the issue of ensuring that all workers have work injury insurance coverage, the Minister explained that it was not possible to comb through every insurance policy and cross check that with the movement of a company’s staff. However, as the Ministry of Manpower already has a system in place to ensure that employers purchase security bond insurance before they employment is guaranteed, extending this to hospitalisation and work injury coverage should not be difficult.