THE Department of Labour would like to refer to the issues raised by “Frustrated Too” in reference to the Borneo Bulletin letter in the Opinion page entitled “It’s employment agency’s fault” on October 25, 2014; by “Disappointed Employer” in the letter “Labour should deal with errant agencies” on October 29, 2014; by “Anti Dibuyok” as well as by “Still a Frustrated Employer” in letters entitled “It’s time to regulate employment agencies” and “Who set the agency fee at $2,900?” respectively dated November 1, 2014.
The Department of Labour would like to inform the general public that the Employment Agencies Order 2004 was introduced to regulate the activities of employment agencies in Brunei Darussalam through the registration and licensing of all employment agencies; to enable monitoring of employment agencies activities, to protect the welfare of migrant workers or prevent migrant workers from becoming victims of exploitation; to receive and address complaints related to employment agencies; and to conduct investigations and prosecute employment agencies that contravene the provisions or regulations of the said Order.
The implementation and enforcement of the aforementioned Order is also intended to meet international labour standards or requirements whereby countries, whether receiving or sending migrant workers, are required to regulate employment agencies and recruitment practices.
Thus, the department takes the issues raised by the writers, including mistreatment of migrant workers (by employers or employment agencies) and part-time maids (also known as ‘amah pinjam’) very seriously as it may lead to human/labour trafficking.
As such, the department, as one of the relevant government agencies tasked with the monitoring and prevention of human/labour trafficking activities, has a number of initiatives/measures including Employment Agencies Order 2004 and monitoring of applications of migrant workers (including domestic workers) seeking transfer to a new employer, whereby these applications may only be approved if the reason for transfer is valid and in line with labour procedures and laws.
Multiple transfers are generally discouraged but may be considered by the department based on case-by-case basis.
With regards to Anti Dibuyok’s suggestion to make employment agencies provide training to domestic workers, a number of employment agencies does provide such training to the migrant workers they supply while other employment agencies provide training upon request from the employers. Employers are advised to seek clarification on whether training is provided prior to recruitment of a migrant worker.
With regards to the suggestion made by Frustrated Too, that employment agencies should be able to “provide part-time maids”, the department strongly advises the general public against using temporary domestic workers (‘amah pinjam’) as this contravenes the Employment Order 2009, Section 112(1): “No person shall knowingly employ any immigrant employee unless he/she has obtained a licence from the Commissioner (of Labour) to do so…”. Any person found guilty of an offence is liable upon conviction to a fine not less than $6,000 and not exceeding $10,000, imprisonment for a term not less than six months or not more than three years or both.
To date, the department has licensed 81 employment agencies. A few employment agencies have had their licences revoked or cancelled.
The licence of one of the agencies was revoked due to the misconduct of the licensee, three employment agencies’ licences have not been renewed because of using the licence for their own purpose as well as receiving complaints against them. A number of employment agencies have had their licences and representative cards frozen for failure to comply with or cooperate in employment agency issues.
In 2012, the Labour Department through the Employment Agency Unit received 10 official complaints all of which were settled, while in 2013 as many as 50 complaints were received out of which only one case was not settled, as the employer wishes to settle the matter in court.
In 2014, out of the 20 complaints made to the department, 10 cases have been settled while the other 10 cases are still pending investigation.
In many of the settled cases, the licensed employment agencies have cooperated in replacing migrant workers that failed to arrive, pay back deposits as well as return relevant documents.
At the same time, the department is also taking legal actions against those who are found to carry out employment agency activities without a licence and to date there are three cases awaiting to be prosecuted in court.
The department would like to remind the public that any person operating without an employment agency licence granted by the Department of Labour is in violation of Section 6 (1) of the Order which states that “No person shall carry on an employment agency unless he is the holder of a licence granted by the Commissioner” and as stated in Section 6 (2), “Any person who contravenes or fails to comply with subsection (1) (6(1)) is guilty of an offence and liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000, imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or both…”.
It is also important to note that the Department of Labour, Ministry of Home Affairs does not endorse any set of standard recruitment fees and we can only regulate that are within our jurisdiction including foreign worker licence security deposits, visa applications, medical checks, employment pass and worker insurance. Any recruitment fees charged by those outside of Brunei Darussalam are governed by the laws and legislations of the respective governments of the sending countries. Over time, recruitment practices abroad may cause recruitment fees to vary as sending countries may change their policies/regulations as required in order to regulate the activities of their employment agencies and such changes may affect the recruitment fees.
In this regard, employers are urged to select employment agencies offering services that meet their needs and requirements.
Various employment agencies offer several means of payments for the recruitment of foreign workers including deposits or down payment or even payments in instalments.
The payment methods are an agreement between the various parties involved including the employer, Brunei employment agencies, the migrant worker and the employment agencies of the sending countries.
In an effort to regulate recruitment fees within Brunei, a price ceiling regulation on services charged by employment agencies is in the final stages of being drafted.
Finally, members of the public who encounter issues concerning the activities of employment agencies (such as being cheated or duped) are urged to make formal reports or complaints at:
The Employment Agency Unit located at level 1, Department of Labour, Jalan Dewan Majlis, Bandar Seri Begawan, Negara Brunei Darussalam.
Important documents related to the reports or complaints must be brought along such as: A copy of police report; A copy of contract agreement with employment agencies; A copy of job order to employment agencies; Payment receipts; and other relevant documents.
In cases where there may be suspected mistreatment of migrant workers, the public is requested to report such incidents to: The Labour Enforcement Division, Department of Labour.
The public can also contact via the hotline 673-2381848.
All complaints will be addressed and appropriate actions will be taken accordingly.
– Department of Labour,
Ministry of Home Affairs