MOM also prosecuted 49 employers for severe breaches of salary payment obligations under the Employment Act, new Manpower Minister said in Parliament this week.
"MOM has stepped up our enforcement efforts since 2014.”
"We take a particularly serious view of employers who wilfully refuse to pay."
MOM employment inspectors have also been given greater enforcement powers to arrest suspects, he said.
Lim added that there were 1630 cases heard in the Labour Court last year. Of these, two-thirds of claimants received full-payment of their monies.
“MOM takes this seriously and our empathy goes to the workers because they worked hard for the money.”
But union Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) claimed MOM’s approach is not enough.
“For years, TWC2 has seen a steady number of migrant workers who approach us for assistance over salaries,” it said in a statement released this week.
“Just last week, a group of 18 construction workers came telling us that they were owed four months’ salaries. Their case is ongoing. They are the tip of the iceberg: We understand there are about 100 employees in this company, all in a similar predicament but, according to the 18, are too afraid to ask for help.”
The union said these situations illustrated inadequacies in MOM’s approach.
“While a new stance of investigating all complaints is, in abstract, the right direction to take, the more important question is what percentage of complaints results in penalties or prosecution — which we cannot see from the minister’s statement.”
This illustrates an inadequacy in MOM’s approach, the union said.
“If employers feel that the chance of being caught is low, the practice of delaying salary payments will not be stamped out.”
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) acted against 645 errant employers last year for salary-related offences – quadruple the number of cases in 2013.