singapore means business on hiring locals identifies firms not complying 1027342015

The MoM has identified 38 firms for closer scrutiny

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By :  ,  Financial Analyst

Singapore Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said yesterday on his blog that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) had identified 38 firms, out of a total of 150 firms that the Ministry had discussions with over the past year, that had not complied with requirements to hire Singaporeans before employing foreign personnel.

The Ministry introduced the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) last year as a means to ensure that Singaporeans are given the first opportunity in job openings before firms applied to the Ministry for employment of foreign PMEs (Professionals, Managers and Executives).

Under the FCF, businesses must first advertise job openings for 14 days on the Workforce Development Agency’s Jobs Bank, before taking recourse to candidates holding Employment Pass (EP). The FCF applies to companies with more than 25 workers and who are seeking to employ foreign PMEs for jobs paying up to SG$12,000.

The Ministry scrutinises applications for Employment Pass and looks out for companies that show weak commitment to hire locals.

The Minister said: “Today, I would like to give an update that my MOM colleagues have engaged 150 firms over the past year and identified 38 of them for closer scrutiny. We have also identified about 100 more firms for further engagement. They are the outliers in their respective industries such as Admin & Support, Construction, Infocomm, Finance & Insurance, Professional Services, Transport & Storage and Wholesale Trade.”

These companies, which are now under the lens of the MOM, may face additional questions and requests for information, or be required to produce evidence that a suitable number of Singaporeans who applied, were in fact interviewed, and whether current Singaporean employees could have been deployed in the concerned position instead of a foreigner.

The MOM may also require the firms on the watchlist to take steps to train, develop and upgrade their local PMEs. The Minister said that if firms do not cooperate, their EP privileges would be curtailed.

Though the moves are well intended, seeking to provide opportunities to the local population, the industry is presented with a severe dilemma because they have created a severe labour crunch, particularly in the manufacturing, services and construction sectors.

"Is this painful? Yes, it is. Because for well over 30 years, businesses in Singapore had allowed themselves to become addicted to endless supplies of cheap, foreign labour," Victor Mills, chief executive of the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce, told Reuters last week.

However, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said earlier this month "there are no easy choices" on managing immigrants and foreign workers. "There are trade-offs. If we have no foreign workers, our economy suffers, our own lives suffer. We have a lot of foreign workers, the economy will do well, (but) we have other social pressures, other problems." 

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