[SINGAPORE] A step-up in reinforcement and greater awareness of workers' rights have led to a recovery of $420 million in CPF arrears last year, up from $293 million in 2012.
The arrears, which will benefit 250,000 local workers, were recovered from underpayment, non-payment and late payment of CPF contributions by employers, the Central Provident Fund Board said in a statement yesterday.
"The increase in CPF arrears recovered was due to the step-up in enforcement efforts by CPF Board, as well as an increased awareness of workers' rights, generated by the WorkRight initiative," it said.
WorkRight was introduced in 2012 by the Ministry of Manpower and CPF Board to raise national compliance with the Employment Act and CPF Act. The areas of focus include payment of CPF contributions, timely salary and overtime payment, provision of paid annual and sick leave.
The CPF Board said that it had recovered $16.6 million in cases of underpayment or non-payment from 3,900 errant employers in industries such as security, cleaning and food & beverage. This benefited more than 19,000 employees.
An average of 3,600 bosses were late every month in making payments to the CPF. The CPF Board said that the timely detection and follow-up enforcement actions helped more than 230,000 workers and recovered $406.6 million.
"All employees who are Singapore citizens or permanent residents are entitled to CPF contributions from their employers, even if they work on a part-time basis," said Ng Hock Keong, director of the enforcement division at the CPF Board.
There were 41 convictions for non-payment and underpayment of CPF and 202 convictions for late payment last year. All convicted employers were fined and ordered by the Subordinate Courts to pay the CPF arrears.
The CPF Board has increased the general penalties for non-compliance of the CPF Act. From Jan 1 this year, first-time offenders may be fined up to $5,000 and/or jailed for up to six months. Repeat offenders face fines of up to $10,000 and/or jail of up to 12 months.