Migrant Domestic Workers & Illegal Deployment in Singapore

Published on: October 5, 2022 Language: English Type: Strategic Legal Research

Singapore is home to a sizable number of migrant domestic workers, mostly hailing from Indonesia and the Philippines. While strict statutory requirements and guidelines are in place to protect these workers, reported cases of unscrupulous and errant employers illegally deploying these migrant workers abound. Although such exploitative practices are condemned and penalized by the Singapore Government, there is at present no actor or agency to ensure that the victim gets fairly compensated for the work done beyond the scope of the Work Permit conditions.

The Singapore Court of Appeal dealt with the doctrine of illegality in, amongst other cases, Ting Siew May v Boon Lay Choo and another [2014] 3 SLR 609 and Ochroid Trading Ltd and another v Chua Siok Lui (trading as VIE Import & Export) and another [2018] 1 SLR 363. This research includes discussion on the applicability of the doctrine to cases involving migrant domestic workers who have been illegally deployed to work outside of their employer’s residence. The research also considers the legal avenues available to such workers in seeking compensation for the work done under their illegal deployment, with an emphasis on the causes of action available in contract and in restitution. To see how the CPD workshop went, view the event report HERE. 

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