Beginning next year, employers will no longer be allowed to hold on to any money belonging to their foreign domestic workers (FDWs), including their salaries.
The new Work Permit condition, which kicks in on 1 January, aims to “protect both employers and (FDWs) from money-related disputes,” said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in a news release on Sunday (7 October).
MOM added that the the Centre for Domestic Employees – an NTUC initiative that champions the fair treatment of all domestic employees in Singapore – had suggested earlier this year that employers should not be allowed to keep any money belonging to their FDWs.
“We are aware that employers safe-keep their FDWs’ money for various reasons including doing so at the request of their FDWs. However, such arrangements may inadvertently lead to disputes,” said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower Low Yen Ling.
“By not allowing employers to safe-keep salaries, MOM seeks to protect the interests of both the employers and FDWs,” she added.
Risks and inconveniences
MOM noted that the practice of employers keeping their FDWs’ money poses “risks and inconveniences to both parties”.
FDWs with no access to their own money will have to approach their employers each time they need some, while employers may have trouble keeping track of the right amount of money to be returned to their FDWs.
Other risks include a lack of proper documentation and the possibility of employers facing claims from FDWs who may not be comfortable asking for the return of their money.
Electronic payments encouraged
In its press release, MOM also encouraged employers to consider using electronic payments to settle their FDWs’ salaries for “ease of transaction and maintenance of proper salary records”.
Reminding employers that the law requires them to pay their FDWs’ salaries “in full and on time”, MOM also suggested that employers help new FDWs apply for a bank account during the Work Permit issuance process.
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