MOM cracks down on foreign employees and employers for work pass applications

24 Feb 14

SINGAPORE

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? The Singapore Ministry of Manpower has prosecuted dozens of foreign employees for submitting false academic records and making false salary declarations to obtain work passes.

What does the change mean? The criminal prosecutions signal that the government is cracking down on any type of fraud in Employment Pass applications.

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Employment Passes and S Passes.
  • Who is affected: All foreign employees and their employers.
  • Impact on processing times: None.
  • Business impact: Businesses are on notice that the Singapore government will fully prosecute any false statements or documentation in Employment Pass applications.
  • Next steps: Employers should always conduct a compliance review of all work pass documentation.

Background: On Feb. 18, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) charged 22 foreign employees with stating inflated wages on their work pass applications. Foreign workers must meet minimum salary requirements to obtain work passes. Ten employees pled guilty and are serving prison sentences in lieu of paying thousands of dollars in fines; 11 employees sought adjournment and one employee is scheduled for trial. MOM said it will separately prosecute the employers – franchisees of the Singapore branch office of international convenience store chain 7-Eleven and their employment agents.

Two days later, MOM charged 25 foreign employees with submitting forged academic certificates from their home countries to obtain 20 S Passes and five Employment Passes to work in Singapore. They pled guilty to violating the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act and were sentenced to prison terms ranging from one week to 10 weeks. In those cases, no action was taken against the employers because the investigation revealed that they were not complicit in their employees’ submission of forged documents.

BAL Analysis: The recent convictions indicate that MOM is on track for increased prosecutions this year. MOM successfully prosecuted 78 foreign employees in 2013 and 43 foreign employees in 2012. The Employment of Foreign Manpower Act empowers the government to impose fines and imprisonment for false information used to obtain work passes. The government has indicated that it will also prosecute employers who are aware of such false information.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in Singapore. For additional information, please contact singapore@balglobal.com.

Copyright © 2016 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact copyright@balglobal.com.