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489 homeowners report misuse of addresses by employers, foreign workers to MOM

SINGAPORE — Nearly 500 private homeowners have discovered that their addresses were being falsely declared as the residences of foreign workers in recent months.

489 homeowners report misuse of addresses by employers, foreign workers to MOM

The issue of foreign workers using false addresses became a topic of discussion on social media last month, when a Facebook user wrote about his discovery of “five unknown persons” who had registered with the Manpower Ministry using his home address.

SINGAPORE — Nearly 500 private homeowners have discovered that their addresses were being falsely declared as the residences of foreign workers in recent months.

They found out after they made use of a new online service by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) called the Foreign Worker Tenant Enquiry Service.

Since the service’s soft launch last December, 489 homeowners have done checks and reported that their addresses were being misused, the MOM said on Thursday (May 2).

Before that, the ministry received fewer than 30 reports a year.

Of the complaints made, the MOM has penalised 19 employers as at April 24. They were each fined up to S$1,000 for failing to supervise their foreign workers’ place of residence and for providing false information to the ministry. It has revoked the work permits of 13 workers for abetting their employers.

The MOM is investigating the other cases.

The ministry also contacted each of the homeowners to rectify their residential records and block their addresses from further misuse.

The misuse of homeowners’ addresses was due to a few reasons, the MOM said:

  • Employers deliberately entering false addresses to circumvent housing requirements. This was likely due to them housing workers in overcrowded units or unapproved factory premises.

  • Workers who sourced for their own accommodation and who deliberately provided false addresses to their employers as they were living in overcrowded units.

  • In a minority of cases, employers made genuine administrative errors, such as keying in the wrong unit number, when registering the addresses.

Employers must ensure their foreign workers’ accommodation comply with regulations and report addresses accurately to the MOM.

The majority of employers who hire work-permit holders here arrange for their accommodation, the MOM said. Employers have to declare the addresses of their foreign workers to the MOM to aid the tracing of contacts in emergencies.

“Employers remain accountable when their workers source for their own accommodation, and they must verify that the addresses provided by the workers are correct,” the MOM said.

They may verify addresses by visiting the workers’ residences, or looking at signed tenancy agreements, it said.

More than 2,000 employers and 1,000 foreign workers have been taken to task in the last three years for providing false addresses or failing to update the addresses of their foreign workers, the MOM said. They were given stern warnings, handed composition fines or prosecuted in court.

The issue of foreign workers using false addresses became a topic of discussion on social media last month, when a Facebook user living near Boon Lay wrote about his discovery of “five unknown persons” who had registered with MOM using his home address.

In his post on April 18, Mr Ruzaidie Dar Surnik said that many of his neighbours at the Floravale condominium had encountered the same issue, and expressed his alarm at the practice.

“What if they made an illegal loan with a loanshark? What happens if they had done something wrong and... the police came standing in front of our house?”

Mr Ruzaidie later posted an update, saying he filed a report with MOM and it had reassured him that it would be investigating the incident.

MORE FEATURES BY END OF THE YEAR

The Foreign Worker Tenant Enquiry Service can be accessed via the MOM’s website.

Besides checking the names of foreign workers registered at their addresses, homeowners can also remove the names of foreigners who have moved out.

The service will be fully rolled out by the end of this year, and will have SMS or email alerts to notify homeowners whenever a work-pass holder is registered to be staying at their addresses, the MOM said.

A new feature will also allow homeowners to "delist" their properties should they have no intention of leasing their properties to foreign workers.

Previously, private homeowners had to submit forms in hard copy to do checks and report foreign-worker housing violations.

Ms Jeannette Har, director of well-being at MOM’s foreign manpower management division, said: “Homeowners are best placed to inform us if foreign workers are indeed staying at their property, and they can now do so easily online… We thank the homeowners who have reported cases to us, and encourage others to do the same.” 

For addresses of public housing units under the Housing and Development Board (HDB), the MOM’s Online Foreign Worker Address Service system checks that a foreign worker is already registered as a tenant in the HDB’s system before it accepts the address.

Related topics

Ministry of Manpower foreign workers housing address

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