Employment agent fined $20,000 for advertising maids on Carousell

Amir Hussain
Senior Reporter
Singapore’s State Courts. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

An employment agent who advertised maids on online marketplace Carousell was fined $20,000 on Tuesday (13 November).

Erleena Mohd Ali, who is the first person to be prosecuted for doing so, pleaded guilty in the State Courts to 10 charges under the Employment Agencies Act, with another 89 counts under the same Act considered in sentencing.

The court heard that Erleena, 41, joined SRC Recruitment, a maid recruitment firm, in June last year and would handle foreign domestic workers (FDWs) from Indonesia. She would also liaise with an overseas recruiter in Indonesia, who would send her biodatas of potential workers. After an interview, Erleena would advertise the biodatas on the SRC’s Netmaid website.

In August this year, Erleena created an account on the Carousell website under the profile name “maid.recruitment”, and linked it to her work email address. She wanted to post biodatas of available Indonesian maids for potential employers to view. She also sought permission from SRC’s key appointment holder, Koh Seng Yeow, to source for potential employers via the Carousell site. Koh told her he had no objections.

Ministry of Manpower prosecutor Vala M. said, “The accused then posted the available FDWs for selection by prospective employers on Carousell with details that would cast the FDWs in a manner akin to a commodity that can be bought and sold.”

If an FDW was selected by an employer, she would change their status to “sold” under the maid’s photo on the Carousell site.

“The insensitive advertising by the accused had casted the FDWs in an undignified light,” added the prosecutor.

Failed to meet ‘most basic standard of decency’

In asking for a stiff sentence, the prosecutor said, “Every foreign worker who comes to Singapore for work expects to be treated decently and accorded the sort of guarantees of human dignity that we would accord to any human being. This was, unfortunately, not to be for the 49 foreign domestic workers, whose personal information and photographs have been published on the (Carousell) website.

“The prosecution submits that the court should pass a sentence that is deterrent enough against the treatment of our fellow human beings for not keeping with the most basic standard of decency.”

Under the Employment Agencies Act, SRC was also required to ensure that the company’s full name and licence number was stated in its advertisement. But the advertisements Erleena put on Carousell did not fulfill these requirements.

For each of her charges in contravention of her employer’s licence conditions, Erleena could have been fined up to $5,000 and jailed up to six months.

SRC’s court case is pending. Its employment licence has been suspended.

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