On Monday, January 14, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced that popular restaurant chain Penang Culture’s backing company, GD Group, had been given a fine of S$94,500 for false salary declarations on work pass applications or Employment Passes (EPs). MOM has also prohibited GD Group from hiring foreign employees.
At the end of 2018, on December 27, the food and beverage company, which owns the halal Penang Culture restaurant chain, was found guilty of seven charges under Singapore’s Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, along with an additional 13 charges, which were reviewed during the sentencing.
For two years, from 2013 to 2015, GD Group falsely declared salaries amounting anywhere from S$4,000 to S$4,800 for 20 foreign employees to meet the set salary requirement for EPs, while all while only paying them between S$1,500 and S$2,200.
MOM’s investigations revealed that the company had been evading foreign worker quota rules by employing foreigners on EPs but then paying them around only half the amounts of the salaries they declared in the work pass applications.
Under the foreign worker quota rules set by MOM, EP candidates should earn a minimum of S$3,600 a month. S Pass candidates, who qualify for mid-level skilled staff positions, should earn at least S$2,300 a month.
According to MOM’s foreign manpower management division director of employment inspectorate Kandhavel Periyasamy, it is MOM’s duty to protect employers who abide by the laws they have set. In the case of the GD Group, they had “gained an unfair advantage in hiring foreigners at the expense of other firms”.
MOM will not back down but instead take a strong stance on dealing with employers who flout the law when it comes to rules on work pass controls, said Periyasamy.
All employers, according to MOM, should make only truthful and accurate declarations in their work pass applications, and that under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, those found guilty of making false declarations may be fined up to S$20,000 per charge, jailed for up to two years or be given both jail time and a fine.
Those who break the law in this respect will also be prohibited from hiring new foreign workers and will not be allowed to renew permits of their existing foreign workers.
MOM said that people who know of anyone in opposition of the Act should report them to MOM through their website or through 6438-5122. MOM promises to keep information given to them in strict confidence.