Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Friday January 19th 2018

$7.50/hour pay for 51-year-old office manager job in a recruitment agency

Dear Gilbert,

This is Jean.

I am 51 this year. It has been very tough for me to get a job.

I resigned from my job last Monday 24 March as an office manager. I was paid $7.50 an hour in a recruitment agency (not for domestic helpers.)

I was hired as an admin executive on 6 November 2013.

The job scope was just admin work: sending cold email soliciting for business from newspaper ads through email, issuance of invoices and answering calls.

Initially, I was paid $7.00 an hour. I asked during the interview if the company covers annual leave, medical benefits etc.

The owner said no as the company is very small.

He promised that if the consultants close account, I will get $50 as he could not pay me.

I needed a job badly and thought it might not be so bad.

But I was wrong.

During the first month, I asked for my appointment letter and was told there was no need for one.

I was given a raise of 50 cents. After my probation of 3 months, I was not given a confirmation letter, too.

I was ‘engineered’ towards another new business arm — which the owner has set out to do.

This was a total new area for me. It is called Business Brokerage and I have totally no experience at all.

Nonetheless, I took it in stride and trudged on.  I felt that I did a good job.

I took care of the office on my own to make sure it is clean. I did the office cleaning job and I had no complaints at all.

I am an experienced secretary / personal assistant for many years. I had no problem doing the job.

There were 3 guys who were the pioneers with the company.  They left shortly after I joined.

Soon, there were only Mr X and I. We worked really hard to close the accounts.

The owner is not a pleasant person to work with. We were not spared from his constant scoldings. This was in the form of verbal remarks and whatsapp messages.

He was always annoyed when we didn’t reply to his messages.¬† Mr X was scolded most of the time.

For me, he felt I was not service-oriented, even though I was hardworking.

I was appalled to learn that as I was not informed of the sales part during the interview.

The owner said I was not good enticing people to use the agency.

He kept scolding me on that.

I kept quiet all the time.

The owner was fully awared that I needed the job very badly as my husband has retired due to health problems.

He has walking issues and my younger daughter is going to polytechnic next month.

My son has just started working as service crew. I had to bear with the scoldings and suffer in silence.

I only had Mr X to turn to and he  was my confidant at work.

He saw the amount of work I put in, despite being paid so miserably. He was the only one I could speak to.

On 10 March 2014, he told me to see him early before the office started.

I had no idea what the meeting was about.

His opening statement to me was: Do you think I am afraid of you, Jean?

I was shocked to hear.

Subsequently, came the snide remarks that I said to him. It was about how I had only a pair of hands and shared on Facebook.

I said it in a light hearted manner.

Unfortunately, he took offence. The meeting lasted for almost 45 minutes.

He promoted me to office manager. The pay is still $7.50 an hour, and with no other perks.

He said the promotion came with more added responsibilities.

He has the habit of calling and sending us messages through whatsapp after work and early in the mornings.

On Friday 22 March 2014, he called me but I didn’t pick up as I was really tired.

He sent a message via whatsapp and I did not reply, too.

On Saturday 23 March 2014, he called me while I was with my kids.

I hardly have time to spend with them as I was working full time and that on day, it was my son’s off day.

He sounded unhappy as I didn’t answer his call. Next, his wife called me and I said I was with my kids.¬† Both of them didn’t sound pleased.

I knew something was up, but I wasn’t sure.

MR X  mentioned to me that he has a very strong feeling that I might be terminated on Monday 24 March 2014.

I was prepared to resign before the termination.

He knew I have not deleted my designation and company information on my Facebook page and he immediately whatsapped Mr X to ask me to put it back.

Facebook is a personal page and not the company’s one.

He knew I was in and called me.

I handed back the 2 hard drives to him and told him as a matter of fact I did not delete any files in the 2 hard drives.

He said I was totally defensive. I said I liked to inform him straight that I didn’t touch the files in case I was blamed again.

We had a long and unpleasant chat.

He felt that I was too negative.

He asked if I wanted to continue to work.  I said I have decided to resign.

There was no point for me to carry on since he is always nitpicking over me.

He is really a control freak.

He softened his tone and said since I know the whole works and the office, I should reconsider to work part-time

I declined.

He then asked if I could work from home.

Again, I declined.

Gilbert, I am mentally drained working with him and his wife.

I had to sleep at 8 p.m. each night. I had no interaction with my family. I was very quiet and withdrawn even during dinner.

I am very distressed. Everyone I know saw that I have lost my usual cheerfulness.

I thought it through very hard why I am being taken advantage of even though I did my work diligently.

I have no leave. If I need to, it will be an unpaid leave.

I tried not to take as it means a loss of a day’s income.

I have been sobbing quietly at nights as it is a really tough decision to make. It was not easy resigning.

Finally, I thought it through.

Mr X prompted me on 24 March morning that he was going to terminate me — for nothing I did.

I did not divulge any information, nor did I embezzle the company’s funds which was never entrusted to me.

The office is very small and it was so stressful for us to work. There are 3 CCTVs.

When the owner and his stepson are not in, they can still monitor us through the CCTVs.

If he sees nothing not to his favour, he immediately send us a whatsapp message or call us.

I have applied for many jobs but to no avail. I can still work at my level best.

It is so cruel that no company is willing to hire an experienced and mature person like me.

Am I doomed to die?

I still have HDB housing loan to pay and I still need to bring home money.

I sent him an email asking for my salary and I finally received mine today.

On a side note, Mr X has roughly $8,000 to $9,000 commissions not paid to him. He has sent whatsapp messages asking for it.

All the owner said no.

Why are we treated so badly? We had to endure constant scoldings when it’s not our fault.

I am really at my wits end in getting a job.

What should I do next?

Badly distressed Jean

Editor’s note: We have extended Jean with our counselling service and see how best we can assist her to move on.

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Reader Feedback

12 Responses to “$7.50/hour pay for 51-year-old office manager job in a recruitment agency”

  1. sal says:

    The owner think you’ re from third world countries, desperate of job. These what happens when there’s no min wages n employment right ….you’ll be taken like a slaves.

  2. Eric Koong says:

    I am sadden to hear Jean’s story.
    Please have her to contact me as I have a potential job for her with higher income potential.

  3. Soojenn says:

    If this is true… this employer should be shamed on the Labor Day protest..

    • Jean says:

      Hi Soojenn

      I would be sued if I name and shame the company.

      Just hope karma will knock on his door soon.


  4. J Y says:

    I am very sad reading all these stories here. It is indeed a very cruel world out there which I feel that many fresh grads are not prepared for. I only got to know about how unfair this world is after I started working.

    Many factors come into play for one to stay long in a job. Most often, it is not our fault that we were terminated/ retrenched or forced to resign. Sometimes the office politics is so unbearable even though we might not be involved. We were just the scapegoats.

    At least she could get WIS for her work done in the company as long as they paid her CPF. Many low-income earners don’t qualify for WIS as they are <35 years old even though they could be doing the same job.

    I had seen an advertisement for sevice crew with a pay of up to $6/h which might be due to the tightening of foreign labour. The problem is that the govt needs to raise wages at the bottom or else even jobless people don't want such jobs. We need at least $2k in order to afford a small flat nowadays. I think food and transport vouchers should be given to more people struggling to survive.

  5. Al says:

    Hi jean,

    What’s the name of that company that u worked with?
    The employer that jean worked with may be suffering from a kind of mental illness called ” I am in charge” syndrome, if this continues he will lead to psychological problems. So jean is wise that u made a wise decision. Find a better employer lets fate destined to ur gracefulness, don’t give up.

    • Jean says:

      Hi Al

      It is true that it has happened to me. There is no reason for me to lie.

      I am still searching for an employer who looks to hire an experience hand. Search is tough but I am not giving up.

      Thank you for your kind words and concern


  6. Dico says:

    The boss reminds me of that Alan Lee in the ‘Slapping the Intern’ incident.

    Jean, unfortunately, this is the Singapore that we are living in. Is there no jobs in the market? The answer is NO! There is a lot of jobs in the market, but for every opening, there is more than a 100 foreigners waiting!

    The world had 7 billion people and they are most welcome to come to Singapore to work! Bosses knew that they can abuse the foreigners because many of them had debts owned to the employment agencies in their home country. Mind you many foreign employment agencies are run by mafias and thugs and under the blessing of their corrupted governments. They will harass the foreign worker’s family if they did not get their money.

    Singapore is no different from a whore now with the FREE LABOUR law. All the official reporting that they had controlled influx of foreigners are bullshit because it is worst than 2 years ago. I can tell you that PAP doctored all their statistics for the public to see, I don’t trust them at all!

    Because of the open door policy, I have seen the degrading of skill of locals in many sectors. Because of the influx of FTs in the IT and Banking industry, very few locals wants to go to those sectors for fear of not getting a job. The experienced ones are retrench and many cannot get a job back in those sectors and had to change career in another sector, migrate or get a job overseas. Locals who are skilled in IT, Banking and Engineering are miserably few now.

    So when Tan Chuan Jin gave an excuse that businesses cannot find local skill workers in the IT and banking sector, he is pushing the blame back to us.

    Wake up Jean, you know what you should do if you do not want to continue this kind of life in the next election.

    If you still think that PAP is the ‘credible’ party as the government, than shut up and continue your miserable existence which PAP don’t give a damn about you!

    • Jean says:

      Hi Dico

      Much as we dislike the pappies but they will never ever have my vote of confidence.

      I have enough and sick and tired of the stupidest policies like CPF, Retirement and what have you.

      All I need now is a job and a good employer. I can still work and contribute.


  7. Melbourne says:

    Hi Jean,

    Have you contacted WDA to see if they can assist you in job search? Do bear with it till you can move on as at times a job is better then none, I have taken up jobs like dishwashing, carwashing and factory work in Melbourne which pay very little just to keep myself busy and earn some cash till I got something better then I moved on. Hope you can do the same too.

    All the best.



  8. Perth says:

    Hi Jean,

    I share the same situation as you. Obviously you are not alone. My husband and myself were both once PMET job area. It’s all the same….once a local-borned Singaporean were made jobless after the age of 40, there is no way of getting back to their expertise job area no matter how good or qualified you are. Sad to say, usually I so far encountered is the local or Malaysian employer are the ones who ‘bully’ or ill-treated the local-borned Singaporean workers. I don’t know if this is also considered our ‘culture’. They simply love foreigners especially the younger generations. I was made to resort to take up few part-time jobs in both the F&B and cleaning area. These are the area of jobs where so far the youngsters would not work. So those above 40s are make to take up jobs in these areas. You will find that you earn more and less of those kind of silly Office stress, (eg calls after work). Also maybe you could try to look for jobs from company of foreign employers. They are more fair and positive in their attitudes to workers. I have been working around from different bosses of locals, all got different frustration and long stories..including the mental illness type which Al above mentioned. Now I work for a Japanese boss, although pay is only $7.50 an hour, but he is the best boss so far I worked in the F&B area. So don’t give up.

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