Nightingale Nursing Home in trouble again

SINGAPORE - Nightingale Nursing Home, which made headlines last year for mistreating an elderly patient, has gotten itself into hot water again - this time for flouting employment laws.

According to The Straits Times (ST), the home was slapped with 31 charges of illegal deployment of foreign workers and one charge of the false declaration of salaries to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

In 2010, the home illegally deployed their nursing aides as food and drink sellers, cheerleaders and security personnel at Toa Payoh Stadium during football games.

Its sister organisation, Greenview Nursing Home under the Nightingale Group, was also charged for deploying its foreign nursing aides as general and administrative staff at football games.

According to the law, foreign workers cannot be deployed for jobs outside of what the work permits are specified for.

In addition, Civic Ambulance Services, also under the Nightingale Group, falsely declared the salaries of its foreign staff.

The offences, which took place from 2007 to 2009, involved the organisation falsely declaring that their employees would be paid $1,800 a month in their application for S Passes.

This is the minimum sum required for a worker to qualify for the mid-skilled working pass. Employers pay lower levies for S-Pass holders than for unskilled Work Permit holders.

Employers who are found guilty of illegal deployment may be fined up to $5,000, jailed for up to six months, or both.

For a false declaration in a work pass application, they can be fined up to $15,000, jailed for up to 12 months, or both.

The three organisations also stand accused of making their foreign employees work excessive hours, not making overtime payments and failing to produce attendance records.

The charges come as the home is still dealing with investigations into the alleged mistreatment of an elderly female resident last year, which was filmed by a secret camera installed by her son.

The film showed 78-year-old Madam Peh Siew Lay left sitting topless under a fan for about 30 minutes, before being flung on to her bed by Nightingale staff. They later slapped her on her mouth when she groaned.

The investigations have reportedly been completed, and the home faces legal action under the Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Act.

The home has since been suspended from taking in new patients.

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