6 April: Legal Education Roundtable and Launch Event in Singapore

IPA Launch Final

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About the Lawyer CPD Roundtable

(See below for Launch Party details)

This Roundtable will introduce and discuss new legal analyses around contract law from a paper developed by Justice Without Borders (JWB), Protecting Low-Wage Foreign Workers in Singapore from Bait-And-Switch Contracts (March 2017). JWB addresses the following issue in the paper:

Front-line organizations in Singapore and Indonesia have reported that many of the low-wage foreign workers that they assist will take up employment in Singapore with the expectation of a certain salary, only to be paid a much lower amount after arrival. Burdened with debt and without any viable alternative employment, these workers often feel they have no choice but to accept the lower salary, even if they may be legally entitled to what they had been previously promised before leaving home.

The program will discuss the legal remedies available in Singapore to seek redress for low-wage migrant workers who migrate on the promise of a higher salary. Participants will engage with the legal analyses laid out in the paper as a potential roadmap to pursuing these remedies in civil court.

All participants will receive a copy of the paper in advance of the Roundtable.

Cost is $25, payable at the door by cash or cheque only. Proceeds will support programs provided by Justice Without Borders.

Click here to access the Event Brochure.

About the Launch Party

Join JWB as we celebrate the publication of our strategic legal research work and discuss next steps to putting its ideas into action. We will discuss case identification, potential test litigation by local lawyers, and potential negotiation strategies that local support organizations can pursue in bait-and-switch cases. Light refreshments kindly provided by Herbert Smith Freehills.

Issue Background

Transnational labour migration is a rapidly growing phenomenon in the 21st century. In the region, Singapore is an active destination for migrant workers and has set up robust government mechanisms to address their legal needs. Unfortunately, unscrupulous brokers and employers exist everywhere, and in East Asia, the worst forms of exploitation deprive workers of over US $51 billion annually (International Labour Organisation, Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labour, 2014). This amount does not include “lesser” forms of exploitation, such as underpayment of wages or non-payment of workers’ compensation for injuries, or abuse.

While the government’s dispute resolution mechanisms seek to solve the most common problems workers encounter, some claims must still be addressed by civil litigation. This is especially true for those who cannot remain in Singapore to pursue their claims through government channels. The problems faced by these workers take on an international dimension that lawyers across the region will need to begin addressing.