Firm admits to making 4 security staff work up to 20 hours a day

A security guard outside a shopping mall in Yishun. (PHOTO: Getty Images)
A security guard outside a shopping mall in Yishun. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A security manpower firm admitted on Thursday (30 September) to overworking four of its security officers due to a lack of staff.

Peregrine Security had made its security officers, which were deployed to different worksites, work back to back shifts of up to 20 hours a day, with only a few hours of break in between.

Under the Employment Act, a company is not permitted to make its employees work for more than 12 hours in a day unless under exceptional circumstances. The latter include working in the event of an accident, work essential for defence or security or for the life of the community, or urgent works to machinery or plants.

The provision applies to employees not working as workman or in a managerial or executive position, who receives a salary of not more than $2,600 a month.

A representative from the company pleaded guilty to four charges of overworking two of its security officers between September and October last year. These involve making the two workers work more than 12 hours each day for 33 days and 44 days.

Three charges of the same nature involving two other security officers were taken into consideration for sentencing. These officers were made to work more than 12 hours per day for 27 days and two days.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) were alerted to the offences through a complaint on 23 September last year.

Senior prosecuting officer Justine Loh told the court that these security officers were vulnerable.

"These workers generally do not earn very much and thus do not have high bargaining powers and it is imperative that such workers are protected," said Loh. She added that the offences were hard to detect and it was a complaint to the MOM that revealed them.

She cited deterrence as the main sentencing consideration in this case.

The firm's sentence was adjourned to 19 October.

For the breach of the Employment Act, the firm can be fined of up to $5,000 on each charge. As the charge is amalgamated, it may face up to twice the maximum punishment.

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