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TWC2 challenges MOM over migrant workers’ struggle to recover unpaid wages

TWC2 challenges MOM on alleged inaccuracies regarding a migrant worker’s unpaid wage recovery story. TWC2 criticises MOM’s response overlooks injustices faced by low-wage migrant workers and call for a review of MOM’s operational protocols.



SINGAPORE: In a recent statement, Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), an advocacy group for migrant workers, clashed with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) over an article shared by the group.

MOM alleged inaccuracies and misinformation regarding the non-issuance of itemized pay slips to a migrant worker.

TWC2 emphasized that MOM’s response inadequately addresses the injustices faced by low-wage migrant workers and urged MOM to reevaluate its operational protocols.

TWC2 reveals migrant workers’ struggle to recover unpaid wages and advocates for payslip enforcement

Earlier on 4 January, TWC2 shared the story of Kajal, a migrant worker whose employer abruptly terminated his employment without paying him for the preceding two months.

TWC2 noted that like numerous other migrant workers, Kajal encountered difficulties in recovering his unpaid wages due to the absence of proper documentation.

His employer allegedly ceased providing payslips, exacerbating Kajal’s challenge in determining the exact amount owed to him.

TWC2 asserted the legal obligation of employers to provide payslips to employees, as stated in Section 96 of the Employment Act.

Despite TWC2’s assistance in seeking help from the Tripartite Alliance of Dispute Management (TADM), Kajal’s employer adamantly refused to provide the payslips.

Eventually, the employer reluctantly agreed to pay S$1,100 out of Kajal’s $1,597 claim for salaries from October through December 2023, according to TWC2.

However, the situation wasn’t entirely resolved for Kajal. He still faced challenges in substantiating the exact shortfall in his salary for the months leading up to October 2023 due to the lack of payslips.

Consequently, he had to forego pursuing salary claims for those months, said TWC2.

TWC2 cautioned that Kajal’s case is not an isolated incident. Many other migrant workers face similar challenges with employers failing to provide proper documentation and unlawfully withholding wages.

While acknowledging the MOM’s information campaigns, such as the signboards seen at bus stops in raising awareness among employees about their rights, TWC2 reiterated the critical importance of enforcing regulations pertaining to payslips and wage payments to ensure fair treatment of workers.

MOM disputes TWC2’s claim regarding Workright Campaign initiation

However, on 5 March, MOM issued a statement in response to TWC2’s article, refuting several claims made by the group and addressing alleged inaccuracies and misinformation regarding MOM and TADM.

MOM denied TWC2’s assertion that MOM’s Workright campaign was initiated due to a widespread problem of employees not receiving itemized pay slips. MOM clarified that almost all companies inspected by MOM have provided itemized pay slips to their workers.

Additionally, MOM refuted the notion that Kajal, the worker mentioned in TWC2’s article, had to forgo pursuing claims for months prior to October 2023 due to challenges in substantiating his claims without access to payslips.

MOM clarified that Kajal could have filed salary claims for those months, and TADM would have mediated accordingly.

“During mediation, he confirmed that he had no salary issues before October 2023. We note that TWC2, who was assisting Kajal with his salary claims computation, did not include claims for months before October 2023 as well, ” MOM explained.

MOM also addressed TWC2’s criticism regarding the lack of enforcement of itemized pay slips compromising workers’ ability to recover the full amount of salaries owed to them.

MOM dismissed this notion, stating that workers’ ability to recover salaries is not compromised if employers do not provide itemized pay slips.

During mediation, if employers fail to produce pay slips, the onus is on them to prove that salaries have been paid, according to MOM.

Furthermore, MOM emphasized its commitment to ensuring compliance with employment laws, including the provision of itemized pay slips, through around 5,000 Workright inspections conducted yearly.

MOM stated that appropriate actions, including penalties, will be taken against employers found to be in non-compliance with the Employment Act.

TWC2 challenges several MOM’s arguments

Following MOM’s response, TWC2 argued in a statement dated 8 March that it is reasonable to assume that when a ministry invests in an information campaign, it aims to address an existing issue.

“Why spend money on a campaign if no problem exists?”

While MOM claimed that their inspections revealed almost all inspected companies provided itemized pay slips, TWC2 challenged the ministry for more transparency and accountability.

They highlighted the lack of detailed information on MOM’s findings and inspection methods.

Regarding MOM’s assertion of conducting 5,000 Workright inspections annually, TWC2 emphasized the lack of transparency in MOM’s disclosure of inspection details.

Despite MOM’s issuance of an annual Employment Standards Report, providing useful data, TWC2 noted its insufficiency in offering detailed insights into Workright surveys, which should serve as a significant data source for these reports.

Despite allegations from MOM regarding TWC2’s reporting, TWC2 emphasized their meticulousness.

They referenced two Parliamentary replies that shed light on the Workright campaign and payslips, providing insight into what MOM might be referring to when mentioning “surveys.”

They cited a reply from Minister of State for Manpower, Zaqy Mohamad, in September 2018, where it was revealed that 95% of private establishments provided itemized payslips to their employees based on MOM’s survey since its inception in 2016.

Another reply from Manpower Minister Dr Tan See Leng in November 2021 highlighted that between 2018 and 2020, MOM investigated an average of 100 complaints per year regarding the non-issuance of itemized payslips and detected a further 280 cases from proactive inspections under the Workright initiative each year.

“Over a three-year period (2018 – 2020), their Workright initiative uncovered 280 employers who fell foul of the obligation to issue itemised payslips. Over the same period, from complaints and claims, another 300 cases surfaced – as many as they found from their Workright surveys.”

TWC2 spotlights seeming absence of consequences amid MOM’s claim of employer investigation

While MOM blamed TWC2 and Kajal for not raising salary issues before October 2023, TWC2 emphasized the careful consideration given to Kajal’s decision to limit his claim to October to December.

TWC2 argued that MOM’s assertion that it was untrue for TWC2 to say Kajal had foregone his claim was a careless and possibly overzealous use of language.

“While it may be true, as MOM said, that workers can insist on claiming for months even when there is no evidence – and it is only right that TADM should mediate all the same, as per their legislated role – workers would however be acutely aware that trying to force through a claim with weak evidence could prolong the process (including their period of unemployment) and taint the credibility of their claims for those other months where they had better evidence.”

“Therefore, it is completely rational that workers, as Kajal did, would choose only to pursue claims for the periods for which they had better evidence.”

MOM claimed they would take action for employer non-compliance with itemized pay slips. TWC2 challenged this, citing Kajal’s unsuccessful efforts to obtain payslips despite requests through TADM and TWC2 to MOM.

They highlighted the lack of visible consequences or indications of action against the employer despite MOM’s claim of investigation.

TWC2 advocates swift legal action against employer obstinance

In response to MOM’s claim that workers’ ability to recover salaries isn’t affected by the absence of itemized payslips, TWC2 stressed payslips’ crucial role as evidence, mandated by law.

TWC2 pointed out the inconsistency in MOM’s statement, highlighting a previous case where a worker was advised to withdraw his claim by TADM due to the absence of payslips.

TWC2 further emphasized the importance of ensuring that workers do not bear the cost of the employer’s obstinacy and called for the full force of the law to be applied promptly once a claim has been filed.

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I believed that since this country has become a favourite destination for people around the world particularly from the developing countries, there should be protection against errant employers who refused to pay their employees the rightful salary and failure to address the problem will result in reputation of the country being destroyed.

This is the result of a poor regulator which results in entities showing the Ministry their middle fingers and continuing to not giving payslips to their workers. It is not a lapse but with intent. Kudos to TWC2 which is showing the holes of the regulator and working in the interest of the migrant workers who do not get a minimal wage in a State where the Ministers pay themselves millions of dollars. We are truly a shameless society in selling cheap foreign labour.

The PAP Administration HAS OUGHT to be SENSIBLE, come to terms with Singapreans and STOP ALL THEIR FxxK AROUND with people and their lives.

The WORLD is Moving around FAST and this Fkg PAP still living in Medieval Times Lord over people and TELL LIES AFTER LIES.

Do a PROPER JOB since U PAY Yourself Millions of Dollars ROBBED regularly frlm SG Reserves SO OFTEN times.

Given the actual size of the island, … given the super~efficiency it promotes and propagate of itself and given the massive rice~bowl that MOM and it’s ministers and officials command, … … why do such issues even exists !!!

Tripartism as propagated is nothing, … but a load of tripe and trite !!!

MoM and the Federation of Employers are in partnership.
The 3rd entity is NTUC.

This is the Tripartite evil.

They scheme up and defend each other
Workers are at the disadvantage from the start.

The executives working in companies think they are insulated.
They too have been taken for rides… and they know it too… but remain silent.

PAP must not be voted in.
But there are so many fools…mostly kia-su & kia-si.