MP Leon Perera

Mr Leon Perera asked the Minister for Manpower whether the Ministry will study the feasibility of replicating elements of the Korean Employment Permit Scheme in the recruitment of low-wage Bangladeshi migrant workers to regulate and improve oversight over parts of the recruitment process that are prone to exploitation and which may lead to overly high recruitment fees.

Dr Tan See Leng: The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) had previously studied South Korea’s Employment Permit Scheme and found it unsuitable given the higher number of migrant workers in Singapore. This was previously addressed in MOM’s Committee of Supply debate in 2018. Foreign workers entering South Korea are also reported to face waiting times of one to two years. MOM does recognise that migrant workers may face high recruitment fees from intermediaries in their home countries. We have introduced legislation to limit the recruitment fees paid by migrant workers to employment agencies operating in Singapore. However, we have no legal jurisdiction to influence the recruitment fees incurred in their home countries.

This is a complex issue that is not easily addressed, but we are open to and are exploring approaches that can help reduce the dependence of migrant workers on intermediaries in their home countries and, hence, recruitment fees. One idea we are considering is to facilitate direct recruitment channels for returning workers as they are more familiar with our employment laws and may be less dependent on intermediaries. This is still at an early stage of consideration.

Ministry of Manpower
8 May 2023

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