Government cites progress in foreign workers’ housing conditions

by HRD10 Apr 2017
The foreign worker housing landscape has improved over recent years as the government has stepped up enforcement and raised standards, Minister of Manpower Lim Swee Say said last week.  

In a written answer to Member of Parliament Daniel Goh Pei Siong, Lim said MOM conducted “close to 4,000” foreign workers housing inspections between 2014 to 2016. 

“Over this period, MOM ramped up our housing inspections from 700 in 2014 to 1,800 in 2016, to proactively inspect all larger dormitories and other smaller housing types suspected to be in poor conditions as well as respond to complaints.”

Last month, Kay Lim Construction & Trading was prosecuted in State Courts for housing its foreign workers (FWs) in accommodation with unhygienic living conditions, MOM said. It was also charged with abetting nine other companies in housing their FWs in the same unacceptable workers’ quarters, and failing to update the housing address of the FWs in the Online Foreign Worker Address Service (OFWAS).

MOM requires employers to ensure acceptable housing for their foreign workers and provide their addresses. Acceptable housing standards include:
  • Proper land use as defined by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Housing Development Board, or Jurong Town Corporation
  • Building structural safety standards by the Building and Construction Authority
  • Fire and safety standards by the Singapore Civil Defence Force
  • Environmental health requirements by the National Environment Agency
  • Drainage, sanitary and sewerage system standards by the Public Utilities Board
“Employers could be prosecuted if they do not ensure that their workers have acceptable housing. Their future Work Permit applications or renewals may also be affected,” said the Ministry.

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