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Friday, December 30, 2005

Is that a vacation job or free labour?

From the Straits Times Interactive,5578,361748,00.html?

Dec 29, 2005
Is that a vacation job or free labour?

I WISH to highlight a practice by a local restaurant chain which appears to use students on vacation as a source of free labour.

My daughter, who had just completed her O levels, applied for vacation work at Fish & Co in Parkway Parade. She was told the pay was $4.50 per hour.

Happily, she started work on Dec 5, working a five-hour shift for five days. However, near the end of her shift on Dec 10, she and some others were told their services had been terminated. Nothing was said about outstanding pay.

My wife accompanied her on Dec 23 to ask about the outstanding pay. They were attended by one of the staff members who told them new employees, whose services are terminated, should have served a minimum of 24 working hours to get paid. If they failed to clock the minimum hours, they would not be paid a cent. She told my wife that our daughter had clocked 23.5 hours of work.

The staff member said all new hires were told of this 'condition' before starting work but our daughter says she was not.

When my wife asked to see documentation of this, the staff member said it was done verbally. After my wife said she would report the restaurant to the Manpower Ministry, the employee called her head office. She later told my wife that our daughter would be paid $1.80 an hour as she was still under probation. Again, $1.80 an hour for new hires under probation was not mentioned before she began work.

Fed up, my wife and daughter left.

Although the amount owed to my daughter is relatively low, about $100, I am disappointed that students who simply want to earn some money during their vacation are treated in such a manner.

My questions are:

# Is it legal for the restaurant to have this employment condition? If so, why not have new hires sign some form of documentary proof?

# If the restaurant really feels our daughter is not fit, why make her work for 23.5 hours before terminating her services?

Mohamed Hanafi Mohd Noh

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