Twelve Cupcakes fined SGD119,500 for underpaying foreign employees

SINGAPORE (CNA) – Singapore cupcake chain Twelve Cupcakes was fined SGD119,500 yesterday for underpaying seven employees of about SGD114,000 over two years.

The brand founded by former DJ Daniel Ong and Jaime Teo in 2011 and later bought over by India-based tea company Dhunseri Group, had pleaded guilty in December last year to 15 charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.

Another 14 similar charges were taken into consideration.

The judge agreed with the prosecution that the offences were difficult to detect, as demonstrated by the considerable amount of time during which they were committed, and the company made substantial profits as a result. However, he also noted that the company has repaid the employees the salaries they were owed. The offences were carried out between December 2016 and November 2018 under the new owners, against seven foreign employees who had been promised fixed salaries of between SGD2,200 and SGD2,600.

The employees included sales executives, customer service executives and a pastry chef, who had been issued S-Passes to work for the company. However, they were given between SGD200 and SGD1,200 less than the agreed salaries.

Under the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Work Passes) Regulations 2012, employers must pay no less than the fixed monthly salary due to the foreign employee for the month, and payment must be made no later than seven days after the end of the salary period.

The company took further steps to conceal the latter part of its offending by crediting the agreed salaries to the employees’ accounts then asking them to return the difference to avoid a paper trail.

The crimes were uncovered when the Ministry of Manpower received information on contravention of labour laws and carried out investigations in December 2018.

The defence had alleged that the new owners were only carrying on a practice that had been installed by previous management.

File photo of a Twelve Cupcakes outlet in Singapore. PHOTO: CNA