New rules going to be implemented to hire foreigners

14 March 2018

Singapore Employment Act Amendments & Rules on Employing Foreigners

Background

On 5 March 2018, the Ministry of Manpower ("MOM") announced sweeping changes to the Employment Act (Cap. 91) (the "EA"). Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say stated that "as professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) make up 56% of the workforce – going up to 65% by around 2030 – it is timely to make a fundamental change to the coverage of the Employment Act".

In addition, in an effort to raise the quality and productivity of foreign workers in Singapore (whilst ensuring local Singaporeans receive access to highly-skilled jobs), the MOM has introduced stricter rules on employing foreigners. The MOM believes these rules will send a clear message: "We are pro-business, but only to those who are pro-worker".

This briefing summarises the key issues arising from the MOM's announcement.

Summary of EA Amendments

The amendments to the EA are due to be tabled in Parliament in September 2018, to come into force on 1 April 2019 (the "EA Amendment"). This follows a month-long consultation period in January 2018, in which public feedback was sought. The MOM stated that the EA is regularly reviewed to "keep pace with the changing labour force profile and employment landscape", announcing the following amendments:

The S$4,500 salary cap (currently taken as a benchmark, above which employees are not covered by the EA) will be removed, meaning 430,000 more professionals, managers and executives ("PMEs") will be covered by the EA. Currently, salary and responsibilities are both important in determining whether an employee is covered by the EA; following the EA Amendment, the position will change such that all employees (regardless of whether they are managerial or not) will be covered by the EA. The EA will then provide protection to all employees with respect to certain general benefits such as 11 days paid public holiday, 14 days paid sick leave, 60 days paid hospitalisation leave, as well as maternity leave. They will also benefit from redress for wrongful dismissal, timely payment of salary and allowable deductions. However, the EA will still draw a distinction between PMEs and non-PMEs with lower salary levels (as noted below), who will receive additional benefits.
The salary cap for 'non-workmen' (i.e. those who are not involved in manual labour, such as clerks and receptionists) will be raised from S$2,500 to S$2,600. This will allow them to enjoy additional protections in areas such as hours of work, overtime pay and rest days. Currently, overtime pay for non-workmen is capped at a minimum rate of 1.5 times the salary level of S$2,250 (provided the employee earns less than S$2,600). This will be raised to S$2,600.
The Employment Claims Tribunal will become a "one-stop service", being able to hear claims related to wrongful dismissal, previously heard by the MOM. This will be on top of salary-related disputes currently heard by the tribunal if unresolved by mediation by the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management.
Public servants, domestic workers and seafarers will continue to be covered under separate legislation.
Tightening of rules on employing foreigners

Smaller companies (with at least 10 employees) will now find it more difficult to hire foreign talent in Singapore. Currently, the rule that requires companies to advertise jobs on the national Jobs Bank for at least 14 days before a foreigner can be employed only applies to companies with at least 26 employees and for jobs paying under $12,000 a month.

However, from 1 July 2018, this will be extended to cover companies with at least 10 employees and for jobs paying under S$15,000 a month. Additionally, companies will need to pay foreign semi-skilled workers more under the 'S Pass scheme', with an increase from S$2,200 to S$2,400 taking place over two tranches.

As foreigners make up around one-third of Singapore's workforce, and as Singapore's net job growth slows to under 10,000 a year on average, the MOM has historically sought to tackle these issues early. For example, the government introduced tighter rules for Employment Passes ("EPs") in 2014, which resulted in a significant decrease from a peak of 32,000 new EP holders in 2011, down to an average of 3,000 new EP holders per year over the past three years.

The "Blacklist"

To underline the importance of these reforms, on 6 March 2018 the Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say noted that 500 companies had been marked for bias towards hiring foreigners in the past two years.

The companies have been included on a government watchlist, and such "triple weak" companies (so called as they have a high proportion of foreigners, have no plans to recruit more Singaporeans and contribute little to the economy and society) will have their EP applications scrutinised more closely. Whilst 150 companies have introduced significant changes to justify their removal from the blacklist, 60 companies have shown no signs of cooperation; for these companies, Mr Lim confirmed "We have curtailed their work pass privileges".


Source:
Published at Hogan Lovells Lee & Lee 2018.

Thanks for posting this.
I am especially happy about two changes:
- The introduction of the Employment Claims Tribunal as a way to solve employment issues without going to court (which so far was the only way and involves high psychological and financial barriers).
- Somewhat more clarification (although the exact criteria are still opaque) about how companies are judged to hire too many foreigners.

this is good to know information for people like that moving to Singapore to look for a job.

this August Im moving to Singapore hope I will have a good job and reliable company.

Thank you!

I am planning to go Singapore next month. Can I find job on visit visa? or what should I do to find job when I go there? Please help.

Thank you

It is of course possible to look for jobs while here on a visit, but it is unlikely that your search and the subsequent work visa application willl be completed before your short-term visa expires.
You should therefore start sending applications before your visit, and focus on areas where you have special skills that are rare and in demand in Singapore.

you will get a job in here if:
1- you are asian.never mind your nationality status,whether you are a PR OR NOT.as long as you are ASIAN you will get a job
2- in the other hand if you are NOT an ASIAN.you will need:
enough money to stay here or.start your business
or else someone need to "sponsor " you!
3- a company  referral" from your country of origin
otherwise.forget about stay in Singapore and get a job if you are NOT ASIAN! :| employers will not entertain you otherwise.
even if your spouse is local and you have lived in here for the past 100 years of your life!
The governments should be aware of it.because..although they keep on send wives foreigner resident of singaporean wives, to get a job or contribute with CPF ,the employers does not care if you husband is local and old and will get retired,as long as you are not ASIAN it will be very very hard for you to get a job in here!

mari9 :

you will get a job in here if:
1- you are asian.never mind your nationality status,whether you are a PR OR NOT.as long as you are ASIAN you will get a job
2- in the other hand if you are NOT an ASIAN.you will need:
enough money to stay here or.start your business
or else someone need to "sponsor " you!
3- a company  referral" from your country of origin
otherwise.forget about stay in Singapore and get a job if you are NOT ASIAN! :| employers will not entertain you otherwise.
even if your spouse is local and you have lived in here for the past 100 years of your life!
The governments should be aware of it.because..although they keep on send wives foreigner resident of singaporean wives, to get a job or contribute with CPF ,the employers does not care if you husband is local and old and will get retired,as long as you are not ASIAN it will be very very hard for you to get a job in here!

I am sorry that you made negative experiences regarding job search in Singapore.
But this is NOT what me and many of my friends encountered!
I (European) stayed in Singapore 12 years, found my first job (as a fresh graduate!) and all of the subsequent four (two of them at purely local companies, only one headquartered in my country) entirely without connections or referals and never felt treated worse than the locals (one of whom I eventially married) - on the contrary, I found that some Asians were treated far worse than me (there is a certain tendency for discimination against darker skins here!)
I also became PR effortlessly and almost bought an HDB (we decided against it in the end in order not to be tied down). Despite living abroad now, I keep my CPF intact, because I think it's one of the best investment opportunities in the world, and also because I want to come back one day.
I really have to thank Singapore for the wonderful chances it presented me - but of course it is always possible to only see a glass half empty.
Your claim that you found no job just because of your nationality is certainly wrong in this most meritocratic society on earth. You must have done something else wrong!

hello,how could yo proof that you are an European?
and how can  you proof that i ve done "something wrong" if i had dude,i would be in jail now
i came here 36 year ago.when i was LESS and i mean LESS than 18 year old!
unlike your all i was not an adult yet.and have since..from 83..when my local husband who is 12 years my senior..brought me in here from brazil
now do you have proof that,i ve done something "wrong" what is "wrong" for you?
brought up a family of 4 ..sons and daughters.now aged between 22 and 34 year old and a grandchild now 12 years old?dedicate my life to this family..since 83 and since 83 i been looking for a job
you do have..you are male..maybe that is reason why,,and you do not come from latin americas
is there any other latin american who look like me and work in here?
IF a MAN  or even a woman..bring a minor to their country.they are responsible for this person!
and if this man cannot make.a business for this minor to work with him..she should be allowed a job.given that she has spent..36 years of her life in that country and is already eligible to find a job,
i wanted to return to my country in the same year to continue my studies ..before you think..
why havent you return to your country then?
well i could not.he did not pay my ticket back..
so do not judge..man.i ve worked in kfc and they did not wanted me to punch up.or record my days of work..came pay day i was not " paid"
your story is different.not sure if you are a "dude" or woman,however you came here OLD ALREADY AHH
not a teen.like it was my case..did not have the chance to continue my studies
so do not judge..ok?!!
my story here is different....man!! and be glad that it is not your case
and today..36 year old later.this man i got married with who is a local..is getting old and got retire.and i need to support myself.and even between raising kids.i tried many times to get a job.but,it was not easy..i m not a lazy bum.cos i been working back home in kindergarten..in my mother's grange.since i was 12 year old...very hard working!! ok? so do not judge! listen to our story first.

i have pride and dignity..man..i do not come to ones country to ."beg" for jobs.if i do.is because i need it! and i m eligible to it
even today.when they ask my ..nationality they won't give me a job.and while in their adv.they claim that.their work premises is near by where i live..once they find out where i come from and that i m from certain country..they say
ahh sorry we have only "vacancy " in town  only,they change subject,immediately and end up conversations
i been into jobs in hotel here.where i was asked to "return home'i m   not even lying!!
it was in mandarin hotel.so i ask them to take back their job!
i even applied for a job in an agency near by where i stay.up to now i wait for their call
also,i went to look for a job through an agent in coffee shop in raffles,once the man saw me he said
:she is too "small" for the job.which was kitchen job! at which the agent replied
sometimes ladies can be "small" sized.but.they are strong nevertheless.as if Asian girls were that big anyways.so you see?
you cannot compare your case with mine!
i know it is not the local government faults..but yes the people i do not therefore.blame the government of Singapore however by right i m eligible for a job.or this man return to my country to open up a business in there or open up a business in here for i.cannot wait for adult unfilial sons and daughters, neither can i wait for governments.once i get aged to care for my well being.
do you understand now my predicament"??  i did not came here to find a job
someone local. brought me here nearly 36 years ago..thus do not judge..try to find out other's story first! ok?
moreover my post is for all the deluded brazilian out there..who thinks that they can just come and get a job.without any referral..specially so if they are a woman..unless off course they got referral ,qualification.or enough $$$ to open up business.
we got be...realistic..man.not complacent..or delusional..you are not a teen like i were..in 83..i feel,thus .think!! ..and rationalize!!
and i can proof to you this.although it is case by cases basis..the best time to get a job here for me was in the beginning.of 2000.however i had a  hyperactive boy to mind.at the time still very small,so i did not stayed in the job.which they accepted me only because they wanted to complete their quota for Christmas,it was a temporally job as a checker

hi,do you still got vacancy for this job?
2/13 10:09 PM
mt.1
Where do u stay in SG n what's your name?
2/13 11:50 PM
i stay and i m over 50 year old
2/14 12:49 AM
We need service crew instead of dishwasher
the job was about dishwashing.but once he heard that i m not a citizen,he changed for another position.which pays less.If u want at Jem.
2/14 10:03 AM
mt.1
6 days, 8+1 hours ie 8 hrs working, 1 hr rest
2/14 10:04 AM
yes i want,but... any requirements? i m a  50 plus year old PR,my husband is local.and what is the working hrs?
2/14 10:23 PM
From 1 to 10 pm, 6 days..
2/14 10:59 PM
mt.1
Training will be provided
2/14 11:00 PM
ah ok.that is fine with me.thanks
2/14 11:42 PM
What is your name?
2 days ago 6:55 AM
Can I arrange an interview for you?
2 days ago 6:55 AM
mt.1
What's your mobile number?
Thus i gave them.my particulars and this what was the reply:yesterday 10:05 PM
The work location is at Raffles City Shopping Centre.
12 to 10pm
6 days
yesterday 10:06 PM
it changed already from jem jurong east to raffles.which is further from where i stay.
and have more.once i called for a job in ikea..the dude at the other side.asked:
singaporean?
me- explained all about myself
dude:
brazil"????? come all the way to work here? no no no no more vacancy
once my neighbour,also looked for a job for me a malay lady i know for ages.
once they found out where i from..they did not called.
hey! i m not lying i could even proof in the flesh.if theres were a reality show
ok? i have no more age to lie.i ve lived enough not to play games!

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