SINGAPORE - A former director at home-grown confectionery chain Twelve Cupcakes is the latest decision maker linked to the firm to be fined over offences involving underpaid staff.
Yvonne Ong Hwee Ming, now 49, who also used to be a teacher, admitted that she had allowed the firm to underpay its workers.
She was fined $20,000 in a district court on Tuesday (July 27) after pleading guilty to four charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act involving nearly $20,000. Four other similar charges were considered during sentencing.
The Singaporean, who committed the offences in 2013 and 2014, is the older sister of former radio DJ Daniel Ong Ming Yu, 45, who co-founded the company in 2011 with then wife, artiste Jaime Teo Chai-lin, 43.
In May this year, Mr Daniel Ong was fined $65,000 for failing to prevent Twelve Cupcakes from underpaying its foreign workers.
He pleaded guilty to 10 charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.
Ms Teo was also fined $65,000 in March after pleading guilty to 10 similar charges.
Yvonne Ong's charges were linked to two people - a pastry chef and a sales executive.
As a director at Twelve Cupcakes, she was one of the firm's main decision makers and was responsible for the employees' salaries.
In 2012, the company decided to employ foreign workers to expand its business and its directors, including Yvonne Ong, decided on their salary range.
But she later allowed the firm to underpay its workers.
For instance, in 2014, the pastry chef was supposed to receive a fixed monthly salary of $2,300. But over several months that year, the chef received only $1,600 a month.
Ministry of Manpower prosecutor Maximilian Chew said that Yvonne Ong ceased her involvement in Twelve Cupcakes on Nov 30, 2014.
She has since made $3,500 in restitution to the pastry chef.
The sales executive, however, left Singapore in June 2019 and could not be located for restitution to be made.
On Tuesday, defence lawyer Gloria James pleaded for Yvonne Ong to be given a fine of $12,500.
The lawyer from Gloria James-Civetta & Co said that her client is a person of good character and had limited experience in human resources.
In the case of Mr Daniel Ong and Ms Teo, their charges were linked to the underpayment of seven foreign workers between 2013 and 2016.
The duo sold the firm to Kolkata-based Dhunseri Group for $2.5 million in 2016.
In January, Twelve Cupcakes, under its new owner, was fined $119,500 for underpaying seven of its foreign employees.
The company was convicted on December 10 last year of 15 counts of underpaying the employees in 2017 and 2018.
For each charge under the Act, an offender can be jailed for up to a year and fined up to $10,000.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.