SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will tighten the salary requirements for foreign workers, in an effort to ensure and assure Singaporeans are competing on a level playing field.
Minister of Manpower Josephine Teo announced several changes during the Committee of Supply debate on her ministry’s budget in Parliament on Tuesday (3 March).
From May, the salary criteria for foreign professionals to qualify for an Employment Pass (EP) will be raised from $3,600 per month to $3,900, in line with improving wages of fresh graduates from local universities.
The criteria for older and more experienced EP candidates will also be increased. For instance, an EP applicant in his early 40s will need to earn around double the new $3,900 minimum qualifying salary.
This new requirement will take effect from 1 May 2021 to moderate its impact on businesses.
“This is only fair, considering the skillsets he or she is expected to have,” Teo said. "It helps to ensure a level playing field for experienced local mid-career PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians)."
Furthermore in July, the local qualifying salary – the minimum salary a local worker must earn to count towards a firm’s quota for hiring foreigners on work permits and S Passes – will be raised from $1,300 to $1,400.
Errant firms risk losing privileges
Teo said MOM is aware of the possibility that firms might raise salaries of EP holders to meet new salary criteria while freezing salaries of local workers even if the latter are better workers. Such firms risk having their work pass privileges curtailed by the ministry.
She also announced that MOM will be stepping up measures to ensure fair hiring consideration in the workplace.
Employers are required under the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) to advertise job openings on national jobs portal MyCareersFuture.sg before they submit EP applications. Teo said that from May, the advertising requirement will be expanded to include jobs paying up to $20,000 per month, from the current $15,000.
She warned firms not to take such requirements as a “paper exercise”, as MOM has begun using data analytics to check EP applications and is also following up on leads provided by whistle-blowers.
Firms on FCF watch list
She said that about 1,000 firms have been put on the FCF watch list. Since the list was introduced in 2016, about 3,000 EP applications have been rejected or withheld by MOM, or withdrawn by employers. Meanwhile, firms under the FCF watch list have hired more than 4,400 Singaporean PMETs.
“Our objective is not just to penalise errant employers. We want them to improve,” she said.
Under the FCF, employers that violate the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices will be barred from hiring new foreign workers or renewing existing ones for a minimum of 12 months, up to a maximum of 24 months.
Employers and key personnel who make false declarations on fair consideration will also be prosecuted. Those found guilty can be jailed up to two years and/or fined up to $20,000.
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