Singapore to update rules on hiring of foreign workers

  • Singapore
  • Wednesday, 01 Jan 2020

SINGAPORE (ANN): The government will this year update rules that ensure employers do not discriminate against Singaporean workers by hiring foreigners.

Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo announced plans to update the Fair Consideration Framework in a Facebook post on Wednesday (Jan 1).

"Expect stronger deterrence for discrimination against Singaporeans when hiring, but also stronger support for employers who are committed to giving our people a fair chance," she said, without giving details of the review.

More information on the review will be disclosed in two weeks, a Ministry of Manpower (MOM) spokesman told The Straits Times.

In her Facebook post, Teo spelt out the Manpower Ministry's key milestones in 2019, such as adopting a 10-year road map to raise retirement and re-employment ages.

She also noted that workplace fatalities have declined consistently since 2015 and sustained a record low rate of 1.2 per 100,000 workers for the past two consecutive years.

Highlighting the welfare of local employees, Ms Teo said: "Everyone, including lower-wage workers, needs fair chances to progress. In a time of business disruptions worldwide, all of us need fair opportunities to re-skill and stay employed. In the unfortunate event of a retrenchment, we need fair payouts."

She added: "Every single day, my colleagues at MOM actively pursue fairness at the workplace."

The ministry is preparing for the Budget 2020 and Committee of Supply debate, she said.

"As we begin 2020, my colleagues at MOM and I re-dedicate ourselves to strengthening fairness at the workplace as a value and a virtue. With fairness as a foundation, we can have more progressive workplace practices," Teo pledged.

The Fair Consideration Framework was introduced in August 2014 on the back of a slowdown in the inflow of foreign workers after Singaporeans voiced unhappiness about them taking away good-paying professional, managerial and executive (PME) jobs from locals.

Under the rules then, companies with more than 25 employees must advertise professional, managerial and executive posts that pay less than S$12,000 (RM36,000) a month. The advertisements need to run for at least 14 days before the firms can apply to the Ministry of Manpower for an Employment Pass (EP) for a foreigner.

The framework was last updated in July 2018 to cover firms with more than 10 employees and jobs that pay less than S$15,000 a month.

Under the framework, firms found to be favouring foreigners in hiring are placed on an MOM watchlist and their applications for EPs are scrutinised more closely.

Since 2016, the ministry has placed about 600 firms on the watchlist. A total of 2,300 EP applications have been rejected or withheld by MOM, or withdrawn by employers.

Some 260 firms were taken off the watchlist after their hiring practices improved. - The Straits Times/Asia News Network

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