Foreigners continue working illegally
Despite a sharp drop in the number of foreign workers in Samoa, those working without proper authorisation continue to be a major problem, the Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labour (M.C.I.L.) has revealed.
The ongoing challenge of non-compliance of employers and employees working without permits is outlined in the M.C.I.L. annual report for the 2018-2019 Financial year.
The report says violation of labour laws typically stem from the conditions stipulated in an employee’s Foreign Employment Employee Permit (F.E.E.P.).
A total of 387 F.E.E.P.s were approved for the Financial Year in question; 10 were declined and 60 applications were exempted.
“The Financial Year saw a decrease of foreign workers by 20% with 387 F.E.E.P.s approved compared to 583 F.E.E.P.s issued in the previous Financial Year,” the report said.
“It was identified that construction, domestic work and tourism and hospitality were the top three Industries that most F.E.E.P.s were granted to.
“These non-citizens are from China, Fiji and Philippines.
“The F.E.E.P. exemptions were granted to non-citizens who came into the country under the government Memorandum of Understanding for employment [of less] than three months [duration] and Government Projects.”
The annual report says that despite ongoing awareness programs to educate employers and foreign employees on their obligations and rights, the Ministry still encounters challenges of non-compliance of both employers and foreign employees working without permits.
The Ministry for Revenue; Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet (M.P.M.C.) and Immigration Services have formed a collaborative effort to tackle the issue.
“Another initiative that birth out of this was the ‘One-Stop-Shop’ which commenced in August 2018 where all F.E.E.P. Applications are to be uplifted, lodged and issued by M.P.M.C,” the report said.
The Ministry’s F.E.E.P. Policy was approved by Cabinet in February 2018. It is now used as a guidance to ensure that F.E.E.P.s are granted and not limited to non-citizens with skills, qualifications and experience in short supply in Samoa’s labour market.
The Ministry of Police will join M.C.I.L. and other agencies’ monitoring efforts in an aim to strengthen compliance with Government policy and legal requirements,.