Manpower Ministry defends call for partners to develop mobile app for foreign workers

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has defended its call for partners to develop a mobile app for foreign workers, following online criticism that it was “asking for free labour”. 

In a statement posted on its Facebook page on Tuesday (Jul 4), MOM explained that it sought a “collaborative model to achieve win-win outcomes” in developing the app.

The mobile app is part of the ministry’s outreach efforts, to help foreign workers understand more about Singapore’s employment laws, social norms and their employment rights.

The call for partners was conducted in January but its statement came after Facebook user Pat Law on Tuesday criticised the ministry’s call for partners as “asking for free labour.” Her post has garnered about 300 shares as of Wednesday evening.

In the call for partners posted on the ministry’s website, MOM said the partner will bear the cost of developing the app. The partner will have access to content provided by MOM on the app, free of charge.

On Tuesday, the ministry reiterated that it would also provide the app developer with insights from a usability study based on a prototype app. 

“Partners would have full flexibility to continue to provide a suite of other services, including retail services, advertorials and promotions, that can be monetised,” said the ministry. “In addition, the rights, as well as Foreground and Background IP of the mobile app, continue to be owned by the partners, not by MOM.”

It added that it has since signed agreements with two developers, Aptiv8 and GenyTek, to develop the mobile apps which are expected to be ready by the end of the year.

Said director of GenyTek David Leong: “We could do it ourselves, but we see great value in partnering MOM to develop this app for workers. The MOM brand lends us the credibility needed to produce a good app that workers will want to use.”