550 complaints of illegal maid deployment from 2017 to 2019
There were about 550 complaints every year from 2017 to last year of maids being illegally deployed by their employers and household members.
From these complaints, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) took action against about 155 employers each year, with about 60 being issued an advisory notice and 80 issued a caution notice.
In response to media queries last night, an MOM spokesman revealed that only 16 employers were issued with financial penalties each year, with fines ranging from $3,300 to $24,000.
In cases where illegal deployment is not conclusively substantiated, an advisory is issued to the employer, serving as a reminder of their legal obligations.
A caution notice, which is similar to a stern warning by the police, is when the illegal deployment is established, but found to be infrequent or for only a short period of time.
Only about a quarter of cases were surfaced by the maids themselves, while the remaining, 76 per cent, came to light via third parties.
There are more than 236,000 foreign domestic worker (FDW) employers in Singapore, and the complaints concern only about 0.2 per cent of them.
The spokesman said a "good number" of the FDWs who made the complaints had already left employment when they reported the matter to MOM, and some had sought assistance to return home while others asked to be allowed a transfer of employment.
"Every allegation is treated seriously and looked into by the ministry," she said.
"In most of these cases, when we clarified further with the FDWs, we learnt that they were deployed with their charges (either children or elderly persons) to close family members to continue to provide care to their charges."
Such arrangements are permitted only if the FDWs accept them, and they are not required to perform the chores of two families.
The MOM spokesman added that employers should work out a mutually agreed job scope to avoid misunderstandings and disputes.
She said the ministry takes a stern view of cases where FDWs are deployed to participate in non-domestic work or to work on commercial premises regularly and over a long period of time.
"It would be especially egregious if the FDWs are overworked and not provided with adequate rest," said the spokesman.
"Their employers can be issued with financial penalties of up to $10,000 per count. They will also be debarred from hiring FDWs."