Advisory: Working for Overseas-based Employers
In November 2019, MOM and TADM were alerted to a case of an employee who worked remotely in Singapore for an employer that was registered and operating overseas, and failed to receive his salary as agreed upon with the employer. MOM and TADM advise the public to be vigilant when seeking for job opportunities to safeguard themselves against potential salary disputes.
1. Research your prospective employer and read your employment contract with care before signing it.
- Research your prospective employer to ensure that it is a legitimate business with presence in Singapore. You can verify this by checking with official sources such as ACRA. If your prospective employer is not registered in Singapore, TADM will be unable to assist you in any claims against the employer;
- If you decide to proceed with the employment anyway, check if the employer is registered with its respective overseas authority and the types of recourse should there be a dispute; and
- Check that the contract covers the rights and obligations of both you and your employer. Clarify any employment terms which you deem to be unclear or unreasonable.
2. Keep a record of all official correspondence between you and the company. Ask for written copies of all agreements, which should be on the company letter head.
3. If you discover that the company is fictitious and suspect that the employment opportunity is a scam, contact the police to file a report immediately.
Peter saw a posting for his dream job in an online job portal. He applied, and was ecstatic when he received an email for a video conference interview with the CEO of the company to discuss the role. The interview went well, and Peter was hopeful of landing the job.
The company was based in Greece with no local presence in Singapore. He was offered the job via email from the HR Manager of the company, who was based in Greece. The email included an employment contract which promised a monthly salary of $7000 and included CPF contributions. As there was no local office, Peter was told he could work from home. He started work the following Monday.
After working for two weeks, Peter did not receive his salary despite being informed that he would be paid a pro-rated salary and CPF contributions for the month. He contacted the employer, who promised to pay him soon. Peter continued working for another two weeks but again, he was not paid. He contacted the HR manager, who said that they would pay him for one month of service soon. However, after a week, Peter still did not receive his salary. He then resigned. In response, the company immediately revoked his system and email access.
Despite repeated attempts to contact the CEO and HR manager, the company refused to pay Peter. They asked Peter to provide his time-log for the period he had worked, which amounted to one month of service. However, the company eventually paid Peter a salary for only seven days’ worth of work instead of one month’s as agreed. They also did not make any CPF contributions or reimburse him for transportation and telecommunication expenses.
Peter approached TADM for assistance, which confirmed that the company had no records with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). As the company was not incorporated in Singapore and had no local presence, Peter’s only recourse would be to seek legal assistance to pursue his outstanding salary. Such extra-territorial legal recourse is likely to be costly and difficult.