Mr Leon Perera: Mr Chairman, migrant workers currently pay hefty agency fees to secure a job in Singapore.
In 2019 migrant worker NGO TWC2 found that, for the first-timers, the average agency fee paid, especially for Bangladeshi workers, was $7,606 and the median was $7,750. For repeat workers, the average was $4,733 and the median was $4,000. When migrant workers lose their jobs, they fall into heavy debt because they are unable to pay off the loans that they have taken for the agency fees. It is perplexing that migrant workers bear the brunt of agency fees when it is common in many industries in countries for the employers to bear such fees.
MOM could consider setting up a standardised Singapore licence in mandatory online job portal for both jobseekers who are already in Singapore as well as overseas jobseekers who want to work as migrant workers in Singapore. Employers with quota in Singapore licence employment, agents should be the only ones allowed to advertise vacancies on the portal. This cuts out unlicensed job brokers. Under such a scheme, it would be mandatory for the company and worker to transact the job application and acceptance through the portal. Mr Alex Au of TWC2 and others have called for such a reform.
Singapore licensed and regulated employment agents could still engage in bulk recruitment for specific end employers in Singapore, provided all recruitment goes through the portal for the sake of transparency to the worker, MOM and all stakeholders. Such a portal may also be useful to enable the authorities and the workers themselves to track compliance with insurance requirements.
Ministry of Manpower
2 March 2021