Singapore Tightening Rules for Recruiting Foreign Workers

The steps are being taken to give Singaporeans a fair opportunity at more and better jobs in the country.


Singapore is tightening the rules for employment of foreign professionals in the country. The steps would involve  more paperwork, steeper costs and a longer processing period, even for a simple deputation to the country, the Times of India reported.

The steps are being taken to give Singaporeans a fair opportunity at more and better jobs, according to a report by the Straits Times earlier this month. More companies will have to provide locals an opportunity to apply for better-paying jobs by advertising them on Singapore’s Jobs Bank, for at least 14 days before a foreigner is recruited for the role.

From July 1, this norm will be extended to include companies that have at least 10 workers and for jobs paying under S$15,000 a month, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said on March 5. As of now, the rule applies only to firms that have at least 26 workers and for jobs that pay under S$12,000 a month.

Some of India’s large IT companies like Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys are present in Singapore. Also, the island nation has become popular for startups like Flipkart, TOI reported.

The Ministry of Manpower (MoM) in Singapore that is in charge of supervising the sponsoring company’s recruitment process has tightened the rules for work visa approval, and hiring statistics have to be included with each work visa form for skilled employees. The details that need to be furnished are the number of Singapore citizens, permanent residents (non-Singaporeans having permanent right to stay) and foreigners in the four separate stages of a job application process like applications received, interviews taken, job offers made and the final hired numbers.

Companies will also have to give semi-skilled foreign workers higher salaries for them to come to Singapore under the S Pass scheme. The minimum qualifying salary will be raised for the first time in five years — from S$2,200 to S$2,400. The hike is taking place over two tranches, on Jan. 1, 2018 and one year after.

According to the MoM, the S Pass allows mid-level skilled staff to work in Singapore. Candidates need to earn at least S$2,200 a month and have the relevant qualifications and work experience.

“Employers say they cannot find enough locals who have the skills and are willing to do the jobs. To them, MOM is not pro-business enough. But on the other hand, we hear (on the) ground feedback that there are still too many foreigners, too much competition here for jobs,” the Straits Times quoted Lim as saying during the debate on his ministry’s budget. Foreigners, numbering 1.1 million, constitute about a third of Singapore’s workforce of 3.4 million.

According to the Statement on Labor Market Developments released by MoM on March 15, local employment growth in 2017 was nearly double that of 2016, while foreign employment declined more than it did the year before.

In order to encourage companies to develop their work-permit holders, the ministry is extending the maximum period they can work in Singapore by four years with effect from May 1, according to the Straits Times. This applies to workers from nations like China, Bangladesh, India and Thailand.

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