From overcharging to plain flouting of the law — Ratan’s story

By Katia Barthelemy, based on an interview in August 2018 Each migrant worker’s story is unique. Yet, in all the stories we hear at TWC2, we can detect injustice, lack of respect, abuse, illegal treatment or a combination of them. Miah Mohammad Ratan, like most migrant workers in Singapore, started his journey out of Bangladesh...

In-Principle Approval: uses and abuses 2011 – 2018, introduction

Introduction Accompanying this introduction is a six-part series of that spotlights the In-Principle Approval for a Work Permit (“IPA”), a key document in the import of foreign labour into Singapore. Behind the document is a process that, over time, has shown several weaknesses. What began as a document and process with a laudable aim — ...

In-Principle Approval: uses and abuses 2011 – 2018, part 6

Part 6: where we are now And that’s where we are at this moment. The In-Principle Approval for a Work permit (“IPA” — explained in footnote) has travelled a long way, beginning life as a simple document that merely informed prospective migrant workers that a legitimate Work Permit awaited them in Singapore, together with basic...

In-Principle Approval: uses and abuses 2011 – 2018, part 5

Part 5: the Section 6A requirement The long name for this rule is “Employment of Foreign Manpower (Work Passes) Regulations 2012, Fourth Schedule, Part IV, Section 6A”. The clause in the subsidiary legislation says: 6A. (1)  The employer shall not — (a) Reduce the foreign employee’s basic monthly salary or fixed monthly allowances to an amount less...

In-Principle Approval: uses and abuses 2011 – 2018, part 4

Part 4: MOM begins at last to respond to changing circumstances In Part 2 of this series, we described how workers with salary claims often pointed to the stated salaries in their In-Princple Approvals for Work permits (“IPA”) [footnote 1] as the basis for their claims. However, the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”) itself took the...

In-Principle Approval: uses and abuses 2011 – 2018, part 3

Part 3: Getting around IPAs in salary disputes Part 2 of this series described the uneven way in which the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) officers and the ministry’s Labour Court [footnote 1] handled salary claims. Sometimes, the In-Principle Approval letter (“IPA”) [footnote 2] was admitted as the basis for adjudicating claims. When that happened, employers...

In-Principle Approval: uses and abuses 2011 – 2018, part 2

Part 2: Salary terms Very few of the migrant workers from India and Bangladesh working in non-domestic sectors have written employment contracts. Contracts are more common with workers from China, but typically these contracts are signed in their home country between the agent and the worker. TWC2 noticed that Ministry of Manpower (MOM) officers often...

In-Principle Approval: uses and abuses 2011 – 2018, part 1

Introduction This five-part series of articles throws a spotlight on the In-Principle Approval for a Work Permit (“IPA”), a key document in the import of foreign labour into Singapore. Behind the document is a process that, over time, has shown several weaknesses. What began as a document and process to better assure migrant workers that...

When medical leave wages take leave of the law

By Ada Cheong, based on interviews conducted in September 2018 Singapore is reputed to be a business-friendly place. A phalanx of blue-green skyscrapers — our central business district — rises up just behind the Merlion. The area is bustling with people in suits and work dresses, working for multinational companies and investors: banks, insurance companies, and...

Some days the skies are clear and problems float away

“Migrant workers volunteer to clean Pasir Ris beach on Saturday” said the headline in the Straits Times, 17 October 2018. Indeed, that’s what a large group of TWC2 clients did, led by Irene Ong and Marcel Bandur, joint leaders of our Discover Singapore team. This team organises activities for the workers under our care every...