Action taken against more than 100 employers a year for collecting kickbacks from migrant workers

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) took enforcement action against an average of 102 errant employers for collecting kickbacks from migrant workers each year between 2016 and 2020, Senior Minister of State for Manpower Koh Poh Koon told Parliament on Tuesday (Mar 1).

On average, there were about five migrant workers affected per employer.

The typical amount of kickbacks paid – illegal payments extorted from migrant workers as a condition or guarantee of employment – could range from S$1,000 to S$3,000, said Dr Koh in response to parliamentary questions from Member of Parliament Louis Ng (PAP-Nee Soon).

Once a kickback is under investigation, employers will not be allowed to repatriate the affected workers, he added. For victims who wish to continue working in Singapore, MOM will refer them to employment agency partners who have committed not to charge these workers any fees.

“This will assure workers that they can continue to stay here to earn an income when they report their employers for the collection of kickbacks. MOM will also require the accused to return the kickbacks collected to these affected workers,” Dr Koh said.

Between 2016 and 2020, about 20 per cent of the affected migrant workers found new employment. 

About 30 per cent chose to continue working for their current employer after the kickback issues were resolved.

The remaining workers chose to return home, Dr Koh told the House.

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