In Singapore, there is legislation that regulates employment agency work. Employment agency regulations are taken from 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.
However, there are exceptions to this requirement.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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  4 SLR 1195, the High Court upheld a fine of S$40,000.00 for carrying out employment agency work without a licence.
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.
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