What is the change? A Singapore court has fined an individual 40,000 Singapore dollars (about US$30,000) after finding him guilty of conducting employment agency activities without a license in violation of the Employment Agencies Act.

What does the change mean? Employers who are recruiting employees should only work with employment agencies licensed by the Ministry of Manpower, as should foreign workers seeking employment in Singapore.

  • Implementation timeframe: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: All work passes.
  • Who is affected: Companies using employment agencies to recruit workers, and foreign workers using employment agencies to seek job opportunities.
  • Business impact: Businesses should be aware that MOM is continuing to crack down on unlicensed employment agencies.
  • Next steps: Companies and foreign workers should confirm that the employment agencies they work with are licensed with MOM.

Background: The case involved an individual who helped recruit a foreign worker for a construction firm and then charged the foreign worker an employment agency fee of SG$3,000. The individual forwarded copies of the foreign worker’s passport and other supporting documents to the company which secured a work permit for the foreign worker. After a court trial, a judge convicted the individual of conducting employment agency activities without a license, and fined him SG$40,000.

MOM also took separate action against the company for its role. The company pled guilty last year to one charge under the Employment Agencies Act for using the services of an unlicensed agency and was fined SG$4,000.

The Ministry states in its advisory that “Under the Employment Agency Act, any person who operates or abets an unlicensed employment agency is punishable with a fine of up to $80,000 or up to 24 months’ jail, or both. For subsequent convictions, a fine of up to $160,000 or up to 48 months’ jail, or both, will be imposed.” MOM also advised the public to use licensed employment agencies for employment needs. To ensure that employment agencies are legitimate, the public is encouraged to verify this information through the employment agency directory on the MOM website.

BAL Analysis: The case is a compliance reminder of MOM’s continued efforts to track down unlicensed employment agencies. Employers and foreign workers should be vigilant about working only with employment agencies registered in the employment agency directory on the MOM website.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in Singapore. For additional information, please contact

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