Employment Agency Regulations – Licence to Hire ?

Regulations for Employment Agencies That Protect Job Seekers In Singapore, there is legislation that regulates employment agency work. The Employment...

Singapore Business Owners


First Published:
Legal

Regulations for Employment Agencies That Protect Job Seekers

In Singapore, there is legislation that regulates employment agency work. The Employment Agencies Act 1958 (“the Act”) requires agencies which perform work in connection with the employment of persons in Singapore to obtain and maintain an employment agency licence.

The Act also requires such agencies to put up a security bond of up to S$60,000.00. This was intended by Parliament to protect local and foreign jobseekers from unethical employment agencies which exploit jobseekers and engage in human trafficking. Further, these requirements would also ensure high standards and accountability in the industry.

Exceptions to Employment Agency Regulations

However, there are exceptions to this requirement.

When recruitment is for own needs

Firstly, an employment agency licence is not required under the Act when the recruitment and placement of individuals in jobs is done by an organisation for its own or by employees for and/or behalf of an organisation that they belong to.

When recruitment is done online

Secondly, an employment agency licence is not required under the Act when the recruitment and placement of individuals in jobs is conducted wholly through the internet.

When sole purpose is to place information

Thirdly, an employment agency licence is not required under the Act when operating a bulletin board or any similar platform solely for the purpose of placing information in relation to the employment of persons.

When foreigners carry out short term employment agency work

Finally, an employment agency licence is not required under the Act for foreigners and/or foreign agencies intending to carry out employment agency work in Singapore for a period of not more than 30 days within a period of 6 months. 

However, such foreigners and/or foreign agencies would require the approval of the Commissioner of Employment Agencies to do so.

Strict measures for failure to conform

The Act imposes the following punishment for employment agencies which fail to obtain a licence: a fine of up to S$80,000.00 or imprisonment of up to 2 years or both. 

In the recent appeal of International Placements (S) Pte Ltd v Public Prosecutor and another matter [2020] 4 SLR 1195, the High Court upheld a fine of S$40,000.00 for carrying out employment agency work without a licence.

Advice for Employment Agency Regulations & Licences

It is thus important to ascertain the kind of work you intend to carry out before deciding if it is necessary to obtain an employment agency licence. To err on the side of caution, please seek legal advice before making your decision. 

For more information on the requirements of carrying out employment agency related work, please feel free to contact RBN Chambers LLC.

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