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Draft law proposes mandatory licensing for large purpose-built worker dorms

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If a bill tabled in Parliament on Tuesday passes into law, large purpose-built dormitories - those housing 1,000 or more foreign workers - will have to be licensed in the second half of 2015.

IF A Bill tabled in Parliament on Tuesday passes into law, large purpose-built dormitories - those housing 1,000 or more foreign workers - will have to be licensed in the second half of 2015.

The Foreign Employee Dormitories Bill contains provisions that will require all current and upcoming purpose-built dormitories with 1,000 or more beds to be licensed, with each licence valid for up to three years.

Fifty purpose-built dormitories which now collectively house about 200,000 beds will come under the tightened regulations if the Bill is passed.

The regulations mandate the management of public health safety, security and public order and the provision and maintenance of social and commercial facilities and services.

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Dormitory operators and proprietors will be held accountable for compliance.

For example, they have to implement a computerised access system and provide identification passes for their residents.

For each breach of a licensing condition, the maximum penalty is a S$50,000 fine and a jail term of up to a year.

The maximum penalty for running an unlicensed dorm is a fine of up to S$500,000 and imprisonment of up to two years.

Repeat offenders can face a fine of up to S$1 million and a maximum jail term of four years.

The penalties apply to operators and proprietors who knowingly allow their premises to be used as unlicensed dorms.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said existing dorms built based on previous tender specifications will be given "implementation flexibilities", including up to six months to obtain a licence from the date the proposed legislation kicks in.

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