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Thursday January 24th 2019

S-Pass Whistle blower: Errant unethical practices of local employment agency

I have decided to come Singapore to work  so that I can earn a good income to support my family back home.

I contacted a Singapore employment agency and they found me  suitable for their employment agency instead and decided to engage me directly.

But I have to pay them an agency fee equivalent to 2 months of my salary in order for them to submit my S-Pass application with MOM.

I agreed¬†¬†and they applied the S-Pass work permit¬†¬†for me¬†lasting two years. However,¬†¬†I didn’t knew that this would be the¬†¬†start of a nightmare for me.

The boss of this agency told me that they can only pay me S$1,600.00 although my application submitted to MOM (my title was Administrative Manager) indicated a monthly salary of S$2,000.00.

Naturally, I was disappointed but as I was desperate then I decided to agree with the reduced  pay.

I was only paid S$1,600.00 per month and the agency fee that I have paid to the company was two months of my salary which was equivalent to S$4,000.00.

Note that I have already paid the amount in my country’s currency when I came to Singapore in Mar 2012 and I felt cheated that I have to pay this fee all over again!

My other colleague with S-Pass work permit  was only paid S$1,400.00 salary per month (her title was Assistant Administrative Manager) and  she also has to pay an agency fee of S$4,000.00 in instalment basis.

After my S-Pass was approved and before the start of my  work, the boss asked  me to sign an employee contract stating that I am paid a monthly salary of S$2,000.00 and that if I was terminated by the company within 6 months, I would be able to  get a refund of my agency fee (pro-rated, after deducting all the necessary expenses incurred).

But if I resign on my own, I cannot ask for a refund at all.

We also have to sign a ‚Äúfake‚ÄĚ loan agreement with the agency – ¬†actually all the foreign workers placed by this agency has to sign the ‚Äúfake‚ÄĚ loan agreement and an updated Letter of Resignation. I wonder how legal can this be?!

In the event if we tried to resign, they will then date the Letter of Resignation which we have pre-signed and also submit the ‚Äúfake‚ÄĚ loan agreement to the small claim court,

This¬† happened to one of the foreign workers who¬† worked for a F & B company placed through this agency.¬†¬†The boss submitted the ‚Äúfake‚ÄĚ loan agreement to the small claim court when she defaulted on her loan repayment after resigning.

For me, my loan agreement showed S$400.00 per month repayment for 24 months Рon paper  it seemed that I have owed them S$9,600.00 when the amount is merely $4000.00!

My Filipina colleague‚Äôs ‚Äúfake‚ÄĚ loan agreement was worst since her salary was S$1,400.00, her ‚Äúfake‚ÄĚ loan agreement showed repayment of S$600.00 per month for 24 months.

On paper, it seemed that she owed the agency S$14,400.00 Р this is really really very bad.

One of the foreign workers¬† that the agency placed after I joined them was only paid S$1,200.00, so the ‚Äúfake‚ÄĚ loan agreement showed an even higher loan amount.¬†

I found out also that. as a worker in a recruitment agency handling interviews or doing Employment Agency work, one has to be certified.

I checked with  the boss who informed me that this is not required  as a few of the other foreigners working under work permit previously  were not certified or registered.

He also mentioend that¬† the government just want to earn ‚Äúextra‚ÄĚ income from these certification and registration fees.

He also mentioned that for the last 3 years, the  foreign worker working with the agency, was never certified or registered with MOM  and she was handling all the shortlistings of the candidates, interviews and selections for the China partners.

She has also successfully recruited    many  foreign workers without any problems.

After I asked him about the EA personnel certification and registration, my colleague and I were scolded almost every day!

The boss would hit the table very hard with all the files and folders, threw these files and folders on the floor and spatted everywhere in his office and used  harsh and loud voice to scold us for not doing things correctly.

But the boss himself was also not sure what he wanted us to do, everyday he changed his instructions, threatened to report us to the police and so many many scary threats.

This happened for a few weeks until almost end of Apr 2012,  we could not  take it anymore and both of us resigned.

Due to our own voluntary resignation,  we cannot ask for any refund, it’s so much money for us and the boss really don’t care.

I think he is recruiting foreign workers for his agency and scolding them every day and make them resign, just to earn this as an extra  income for his agency.

He  kept saying that the government was not approving a lot of their foreign workers’ applications for the agency’s clients, and that the agency was losing a lot of money employing us.

I also found out that in order to be able to recruit PRC work permit workers in a Singapore company, there must be at least 9-10 Singaporeans or SPR, but there were only less than 5 of us (3 of us are foreign workers) in the office all the time, I don‚Äôt know how come the agency can recruit so many foreign workers in the agency ‚Äď 1 x PRC work permit worker, and 2 of us with S-pass.

I heard they can put in ‚Äúfake‚ÄĚ worker name to the government so that they can recruit cheaper foreign workers instead of recruiting Singaporean or SPR but I‚Äôm not sure how true this is.

 I hope a lot of other foreigners, who want to work in Singapore, can read this and be aware of some of these unscrupulous acts or behaviour of such employment agencies.

I  hope that the Singapore government can investigate these errant agencies as these employment agencies also help other local small companies cheat the government  to recruit cheap foreign labour.

Cheated foreign worker

Editor’s Note: In order to protect the identity of the foreign worker we will not post the employment agency’s name here. We also have several copies of the fake loan agreement and pre-signed resignation letter. The writer has since left the company and is now working elsewhere.

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Reader Feedback

13 Responses to “S-Pass Whistle blower: Errant unethical practices of local employment agency”

  1. PAPpiesTears says:

    That’s why many native Singaporean apply jobs through such unscrupulous agent will never get a job. Time for MOM to wake up and put a tight control over such recruitment agencies. More to come..

  2. Anon says:

    One very common thing that the writer doesn’t know (or maybe pretend not to know) is the kick-backs and under-table money received from companies for placing foreigners with them. Frequently the boss will give a small percentage to the staff handling the case, as everybody knows this is highly unethical and maybe illegal if investigated by MOM. The agency staff receiving the percentage of kick-backs will naturally happily keep quiet and go along with it. Otherwise he himself also get into trouble if he tells MOM and the whole world.

    Many many (>90%) of online job advertisements are fakes. Most employment agencies, even direct employers and big companies themselves, love hantam-ing job advertisements on popular online job portals. They can do this becoz it’s free, they don’t need to pay the job portal unless they actually recruit someone through the job portal.

    They are not serious in employing citizens, but mainly to do profiling, collect info on salary expectations, what existing companies they working for, age of applicants, collect 10-yr series of cover letters, etc etc.

    Direct companies also frequently use such BS online job advertisements to support their case to MOM and industry business associations that they are unable to find “suitable” citizens, and need more foreigners.

    As can be seen in the above article, many companies love to hire foreigners becoz can easily tekan them. 99.99% of Sinkies will fark the boss on the 1st day and collect all the paper evidence and go straight to MOM. Foreigners will simply suck thumb becoz they already got big debts to pay off.

  3. old singaporean says:

    I wonder someone can help us to write to opposition party to bring out in the parliament on all these matters.

    I really feel sad the government on one hand saying openly “Singaporean come first” but what they did behind us are “foreigner come first”. Why are they so cruel to “kill” our jobs and affect our family with parents and schooling children… Why? really sad to hear government said our pay must remain low to be compete with the other thrid world countries yet they are getting the world highest pay…

    What wrong with this country?

  4. p says:

    Is this letter/writer real? If its real and with exploitation not unlike slavery, why wouldn’t the Co’s name be mentioned?

    Expose them on FB and other web-sites, cc to the Ministries. They can hide and carry on the act of exploitation because U didn’t dare to expose their names!

    Imagine innocent kids drinking melamine-laced milk powder and no one dare, or want to, expose them. The music goes on…

  5. Chay says:

    Sad to note that I experienced almost the same problem / issue but only in the education department. I am an experienced teacher and Master of Arts graduate in the Philippines who seeks for a greener pasture in Singapore and had been granted an spass as Childcare Teacher earning $2,000/ month. I encountered almost the same story. I had poured out all the money I have for agency fees.I paid $2,000 sgd in Philippine agency , $2,500 sgd in Singapore agency. I am just throwing money for I couldn’t take the cruelty and discrimination of our center supervisor, after 5 months I resigned. The saddest part is , I wasn’t paid from my last 5th month of service for it was used to settle the tax clearance amounting to $1,500 ( since the tax for spass holders is 15% of the monthly salary= 300 / month). This feature wasn’t presented to us during the application process.After my resignation? the agency haven’t find a job alternative for me.They’re just after of “money- making ” and they’re not service oriented at all. They never stand with their agency mission- vision. After my 5 months of Singapore ? I earned- NOTHING ! but only HEARTACHES AND REGRETS…

  6. IWarnedYou says:

    Please be careful when applying overseas. Some bosses really put more work than needed in order for them to get money from the company through their employees. Take for example GYMBOREE SINGAPORE. Please be warned of the lady Chinese boss Jocelyn Ho in this company who would do such a thing, of whom I myself was a victim. The MOM will NOT be able to help you if you have signed a contract. Trust me. I have learned my SGD5,400 lesson.

  7. Darl says:

    Please be alarmed also in the – EARLY CHILDHOOD TEACHERS HIRING in Sg!

    Most of the agencies would attract teacher on a high salary range for Childcare Center Teachers. Be alarmed that only MOE and MCYS accredited teachers can be hire for a long term. Never gamble to spend your savings for you will only stay in Sg in a short while. Check your school accreditation and of course be one among the applicants from the reputable , accredited institutions. Check your credentials if it is in line with the MOE/MCYS Standard-refer to this link:
    If you’re accredited, never mind to go for an application in an agency. Come to Sg as tourist , Find job in the newspaper and enjoy job hunting!

  8. Steve says:

    Dear Writer,

    If you are reading this, I would strongly suggest you make a police report against your previous employer and agency. It is illegal to conduct such practises.

    I am not instigating for you to be malicious, however, think about all those people who get into the same problems as you do. You would be able to assist them in avoiding such dishonesty.

    If you could gather a few people with similar issue, you can make a complaint to your embassy, the Singapore Police and followed by submitting these reports to Singapore Embassy and Ministry of Manpower. You should also CC your embassy the letter sent to MOM. Of if possible get assistance from your embassy to send a letter to Singapore Ministry for a reply on the matter.


  9. zinc says:

    Iam currently working in spass, when I got this job one of my friend was working in this company told me he got a offer but I must pay agent fee $5000.
    I told him once I get approval I will pay, as I got approval I paid him the full amount, after few month he resign the company, later my owner come to know my friend collect money for my application,
    so he pull out all staff and asking about our agent fee which we paid him..
    in this case what will happen, but we don’t have any proof that we gave money to him, please reply me

  10. alvin says:

    No such things as free lunch la.

  11. Karl says:

    it’s hard to protect pinoy from their own selves. They have an indigenous culture of back-channel unofficial dealings. Filipino honestly believes that eating other country’s green grass is a better idea than making their own pastures greener. No wonder they are so easy to swindle.

  12. Lee says:

    Boss apply s pass for a work permit holder after aprove s pass boss tatke sign on a agreement from employee and give s pass under his company and pay daily basic low $35 /day .now what can do this employee ?

  13. Ong lay says:

    Complain Employment all Directors cheat foreign workers salary more than 12 year.
    ALL S Pass holder Sign Two Payslip one show to MOM. One for take cash 1500.00
    Second show Giro 2600.00 . All procedures
    is cheat Goverment money and workers saving ,all S pass holder is not comply MOM requirements.cheating a lot of salry and ask return cash from Giro Account. Cash by hand to Mdm Koh Hwee Kheng. At 35 changi sounth Avenue 2 (s) 486134 – Sunny
    METAL & Eng PL.
    Please hope that the Singapore Goverment investigate this company terrible cheating workers money more than 12 year.

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