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Employee behind ‘degrading’ Carousell maid advertisements fined S$20,000

SINGAPORE — She had posted biodata of 49 Indonesian domestic helpers on online marketplace Carousell for prospective employers to view and choose, and even included a price column.

Employee behind ‘degrading’ Carousell maid advertisements fined S$20,000
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SINGAPORE — She had posted biodata of 49 Indonesian domestic helpers on online marketplace Carousell for prospective employers to view and choose, and even included a price column.

When a maid was selected, Erleena Mohd Ali, who was working for employment agency SRC Recruitment, would change the maid’s status to “sold” under her photograph. Other terms used in her posts included “reserved”, “collection” and “condition”.

On Tuesday (Nov 13), Erleena, 41, was fined S$20,000 by the court after she pleaded guilty to  five charges of initiating insensitive advertising casting foreign domestic workers in an undignified light, and five more charges of failing to ensure that SRC's name and licence number were reflected in the advertisements.

Prosecutor from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) Vala M told the court that her actions constituted casting foreign domestic workers like commodities “that can be bought and sold”.

Seeking a deterrent sentence against Erleena “for not keeping with the most basic standard of decency” in treating a fellow human being, Ms Vala said this was “no less than abuse” as it affects the individual mentally.

“To be priced with personal details and photos left for the public to view as a commodity to be bought are degrading,” she added in her written submissions for sentencing.

“Every foreign worker who comes to Singapore for work expects to be treated decently, and accorded the sort of guarantees of human dignity that we would accord to any human being.”

Agreeing, District Judge Adam Nakhoda pointed out that Erleena had gone ahead with the online advertisements despite a “clear prohibition” communicated via three employment agency alerts MOM had sent to SRC and its personnel between 2014 and 2018 to refrain from insensitive advertising.

In the last MOM alert on Feb 2 this year — which was sent before the offences — MOM said that employment agencies should avoid presenting the biodata in a fashion that casts the foreign domestic workers “in an undignified light”.

Aside from the 10 charges Erleena pleaded guilty to, 89 other charges were also taken into consideration during sentencing.

SRC, which has a website touting biodatas of more than 18,000 maids, was also similarly prosecuted, and the agency will appear in court on Nov 22 to face 144 charges.

In seeking a lighter sentence, Erleena, who is now unemployed and was unrepresented, told the court that she is currently supporting her parents and paying their hospital bills, while two of her four children are still in school.  

In default of her S$20,000 fine, which she had requested to pay by installments, Erleena will have to serve a jail term of 10 weeks and 25 days.


The court heard on Tuesday that Erleena had mooted the idea of posting maid advertisements on Carousell in August this year, and had gotten permission from her boss, SRC key appointment holder Koh Seng Yeow.

Posting biodatas online was not a new practice for Erleena, who had previously done so on SRC’s website, Netmaid.

However, her postings on Carousell were brought to the attention of a MOM investigation officer with the Employment Agency Licencing Branch in September, which triggered an investigation.

The inquiry subsequently found that SRC had contravened a condition of its licence from Aug 28 to Sept 17 this year when it failed to state the company’s full name and licence number in the Carousell maid advertisements.

On the infringements, Ms Vala said: “Erleena’s breaches are due to her lack of reasonable diligence as an employment agency personnel to find out the applicable licensing conditions and prescribed forms.

“These licencing conditions are not new and should be common knowledge to any responsible employment agency personnel.”

For each of Erleena’s charges, she could have been fined up to S$5,000 and/or jailed for up to six months.

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