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Be wary of online employment agencies — labour ministry

Thursday, April 10, 2014    

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THE Ministry of Labour and Social Security is warning members of the public to be wary of overseas employment agencies that operate from cyberspace.

The warning comes following an increase in the number of complaints the ministry's Employment Agency Unit has received from members of the public, who have reportedly been scammed by illegal overseas employment agencies operating via the Internet.

Director of the unit, Patrice Hylton, said the ministry is concerned that individuals enquire about the legitimacy of these agencies, only after they have been fleeced.

She said that these operators, who sometimes claim to be certified by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, have been collecting cash from unsuspecting people who readily hand over their money in the hopes of being placed in overseas jobs.

Hylton noted that while operators can have a website they are also required to operate from a physical location as stipulated in the Employment Agencies Regulation Act.

"One of the salient points of the Act is that an employment agency should operate from a premises ...not from cyberspace. Persons are creating websites and they are telling members of the public, where they are supposed to send their money," Hylton said.

She noted that the Act is currently being revised to address the concerns presented by an increasingly technology-driven environment. In the meantime, the ministry is urging persons to do their own checks before soliciting the services of, and handing over cash to these agencies.

"Seeking a job is like buying something. You are the customer. You shop around and ask questions. If it does not suit you, leave it until you get what you want," Hylton advised.

Legal overseas employment operators are required to display a valid licence issued by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security; issue a detailed receipt upon payment for services; and refund at least 75 per cent of the money collected from a job seeker if placement has been unsuccessful.

Hylton also pointed out that it is crucial that a contract is signed between the agency and the individual, that outlines the terms and conditions of the services rendered.

A list of registered employment agencies is posted on the ministry's website.

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