SINGAPORE: A woman who instructed two of her daughter's maids to help in her chilli-paste and cleaning businesses was fined S$12,500 on Thursday (Feb 6).
Mariam Abdul Kader, 58, had ordered one maid to operate a chilli-paste grinding machine in her house, and to pack the paste into smaller packets for sale.
She also instructed another maid to go to other houses to perform part-time cleaning services.
Mariam's daughter, 29-year-old Nadeen Zainab Hafizah Shaik Ali, was also fined S$12,500 for abetting her.
Nadeen had employed three maids registered under her home address in Hougang, but sent two of them to her mother's house in Bishan to work.
The two maids, Ms Raja Jayalakshmi and Ms Leni Firdayanti, went to Mariam's house between January and May 2018 where they were illegally employed to perform household chores.
On top of their domestic duties, they helped Mariam in her two businesses, the court heard.
This is a contravention of the Employment of Foreign Manpower Regulations, which state that foreign domestic workers can perform only household and domestic duties, said Ministry of Manpower prosecutor Jason Chua.
Mariam took the chilli paste packets prepared by Ms Jayalakshmi to sell, and also collected the money Ms Firdayanti made, earning S$10 per hour cleaning houses.
Court documents did not state if the maids received any additional pay for helping out with the businesses.
MOM received a complaint from the public on possible contravention of maid employment laws and investigated the case.
WOMEN PLEAD GUILTY, SEEK LENIENCY
Both mother and daughter pleaded guilty to their respective charges on Thursday.
The prosecutor asked for a fine of more than S$12,000 for each of them, seeking an uplift to the usual fines.
"Subjecting the foreign domestic worker to (operate) the chilli-grinding machine subjects her to potential risk of injury," said Mr Chua.
The daughter said she was deeply remorseful for her actions and said she had three children to support, one of them premature and facing medical complications.
"I assure the court that I will not allow this offence to happen again," she said. "I plead for leniency and a lighter sentence."
Her mother Mariam said through an interpreter that she has made "a very big mistake" and was remorseful.
"I seek your forgiveness," she said. "I've struggled greatly over the past year. I've been very stressed about this case."
She said she was taking care of her grandchildren and had medical issues.
District Judge Adam Nakhoda granted both women their requests to pay their fines in instalments by July this year, with the condition that they pay the first sum of S$6,000 by Thursday.
For each charge of employing a maid without a valid work pass under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, Mariam could have been jailed for up to a year, fined between S$5,000 and S$30,000, or both.
For allowing her foreign domestic worker to work at another household when she had no valid work pass to do so, Nadeen could have faced the same penalties.