Minister of Manpower Lim Swee Say responded Tuesday to a question from Parliament asking how a well-known restaurant chain was able to secure 20 employment passes based on false salary declarations and what safeguards are in place against employment pass abuse.

In a written response, Say explained the tools the agency uses when it suspects false statements on applications, including seeking independent verification of an employee’s qualifications, requesting additional proof that the employer is able to pay the salaries, and/or auditing the employer.

“Strong action is taken against those who make false declarations in work pass applications,” including fines of up to $20,000, two years of jail and a ban on hiring or renewing work passes, Say added.

Regarding the specific case, Say said that the 20 passes were approved because they initially met all criteria. Later, when the salary declarations were found to have been inflated, the employee who made the declarations was convicted and fined $40,000.

Companies that exhibit signs of unfair employment practices will be more closely scrutinized when applying for employment passes, and if they do not take corrective action, the government may suspend work pass privileges, Say said.

BAL Analysis: The Ministry of Manpower has been actively prosecuting false work pass declarations, having convicted 58 employers since 2014. The question to Say indicates that Parliament is also interested in the issue of employment pass abuse. Employers should review their policies to ensure they are in compliance with all immigration rules and regulations.

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


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