Pushed Beyond The Contract: Publication targeting illegal deployment (SG)

March 26, 2019
Category: Our work | Strategic research

Foreign domestic workers (FDWs) facing illegally deployment are the focus of our latest strategic guide, “Pushed Beyond the Contract: Civil Claims for Foreign Domestic Workers Compelled to Work Outside the Home”, developed in partnership with law firms.

According to the Ministry of Manpower, FDWs are only allowed to work at the address stated in their work permit card, save for trips out of the house to pick up children, grocery shop or accompany a live-in grandparent to the hospital.

Unfortunately, some employers violate these regulations by making their FDW work at their personal business or clean a relative’s house. These activities can land the employer in hot water and put the employee in danger of losing their permit.

To make matters worse, FDWs may be forced to perform this extra work for free. Many do not speak up for fear of jeopardising their ability to stay in Singapore or return in the future.

New legal strategies to hold errant employers accountable

Looking to tackle the economic ends of this illegal activity, Justice Without Borders (JWB) partnered with Tan Kok Quan Partnership to develop training materials.

These included initial legal strategies that lawyers can advance to hold errant employers financially accountable.

Pushed Beyond the Contract: Civil Claims for Foreign Domestic Workers Compelled to Work Outside the Homeexamines the current state of the law in Singapore, and draws initial steps towards legal arguments that may help build this still untested area of the law. 

Focusing on common scenarios arising in Singapore for FDWs compelled to work outside the home illegally, the publication discusses several potential claims in contract and/or possible restitution. 

This research is part of JWB’s mission to build a body of knowledge that enables workers to receive rightful compensation for their work, regardless of any cross-border elements in their cases.

And the work has already been put out into the field.

Lawyers and caseworkers were trained in our strategies at a Continuing Professional Development workshop in November 2018, accredited by the Singapore Institute of Education.

Additional trainings for lawyers and frontline caseworkers are also in the works.

We are grateful to lawyers from Tan Kok Quan Partnership for researching and reviewing the publication, and Herbert Smith Freehills for their assistance and sponsorship in launching this work. We also thank our Legal Fellows for their invaluable contributions to this research.

Check out our strategic guide here.