Singapore—A fine of S$12,500 was meted out on Thursday (Feb 6) to a woman who had her daughter’s two domestic helpers illegally working in her cleaning and chili-paste making business. Her daughter was fined the same amount for abetting her in the illegal activity.
The domestic helpers were employed by Nadeen Zainab Hafizah Shaik Ali, age 29, who lives in Hougang. But they actually went to work for Ms Nadeen’s mother, 58-year-old Mariam Abdul Kader, who lives in Bishan, according to a report from Channel NewsAsia (CNA).
Madam Mariam had one helper do part-time cleaning jobs in other people’s houses, while the other one worked in her home grinding chili paste and repacking the paste into packets for selling.
The court heard that between January and May 2018, Raja Jayalakshmi and Leni Firdayanti, worked at Madam Mariam’s home, where they were made to do household tasks as well as assist her in her two businesses.
That Ms Jayalakshmi and Ms Firdayanti worked illegally for Madam Mariam is in violation of the Employment of Foreign Manpower Regulations, as this states that only domestic and household duties may be done by foreign domestic workers, said Jason Chua, a prosecutor with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
Aside from having the two women work illegally, Madam Mariam also collected S$10 for every hour of cleaning Ms Firdayanti performed. She also sold the chili paste packets that had been prepared by Ms Jayalakshmi.
Whether or not the two helpers received extra pay for the illegal work they did is not known.
A complaint was raised from the public concerning the women’s illegal work, and MOM launched an investigation into the issue.
Madam Mariam and Ms Nadeen both pleaded guilty in court on Thursday.
According to Mr Chua, “Subjecting the foreign domestic worker to (operate) the chilli-grinding machine subjects her to potential risk of injury,” as he asked for a fine higher than S$12,000 for each woman.
Both of the women also showed remorse for their action. Ms Nadeen said she has three children whom she supports, one of whom has medical issues since they had been born premature.
She therefore pleaded for leniency, assuring the court that she would “not allow this offence to happen again.”
On her part, Madam Mariam admitted via an interpreter that she had made “a very big mistake.”
“I seek your forgiveness. I’ve struggled greatly over the past year. I’ve been very stressed about this case,” she said, adding that she was her grandchildren’s caregiver.
The women were given permission by District Judge Adam Nakhoda to pay the fine in tranches that would end by July and begin with an initial and immediate payment of S$6,000.
Madam Mariam could have been given a fine as high as S$30,000 and could have gone to jail for as long as one year due to the charge of employing a maid without a valid work pass under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.
Ms Nadeen could have also faced the same maximum penalty for letting the domestic helpers she employed work in another home. -/TISG
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