On 8 July 2015, the Ministry of Manpower (the “MOM”) announced various measures to enhance employment and career opportunities for Singaporean professionals, managers and executives(“PMEs”). Most notably, changes will be made to the Fair Consideration Framework (“FCF”) in relation to advertisements on the Jobs Bank, scrutiny of employment pass applications, re-skilling Singaporean PMEs whose skills are at a higher risk of becoming outdated and wage support to encourage hiring of mature PMEs.
Enhancement of Fair Consideration Framework
In a move to reinforce expectations for employers to consider Singaporeans fairly for job opportunities, the MOM introduced the FCF on 23 September 2013 requiring employers to consider Singaporeans fairly before hiring Employment Pass (“EP”) holders. Under the FCF, employers submitting new EP applications must first advertise the job vacancy in the Jobs Bank for at least 14 days before making the EP application. Firms with discriminatory hiring practices will be subject to additional scrutiny and risk having their work pass privileges curtailed.
The MOM will enhance the FCF in the following ways:
- Jobs Bank advertisements to state salary range: With effect from 1 October 2015, employers have to publish the salary range of the job vacancy in the Jobs Bank. The MOM will reject an employer’s application for an EP where the job advertisement did not state a salary range.
- Higher scrutiny of EP applications for firms with weaker Singaporean core of PMEs relative to others in their industry: The MOM will scrutinise these firms more closely to check whether Singaporeans were considered fairly. These employers will have to submit more information to the MOM including information on the number of applications submitted by Singaporeans, whether Singaporeans were interviewed for the vacancy, and the firm’s current share of Singaporeans in PME positions at various levels.
- Re-skill Singaporean PMEs whose skills are at higher risk of becoming outdated: The tripartite partners will work to re-skill Singaporean PMEs whose skills are at a higher risk of becoming outdated. The Singapore Workforce Development Agency (the “WDA”) will strengthen its outreach to PMEs through workshops, dedicated career fairs for mid-career PMEs and career counselling.
- Wage support to encourage hiring of mature Singaporean PMEs: Employers who employ mature workers, who have been looking for jobs for at least six months, in mid-level jobs that pay at least S$4,000, will be given wage support as follows:
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Employers are expected to help individuals settle in their new jobs by providing structured on-the-job training or send them for external training. The programme will be run on a trial basis for two years from 1 October 2015.
For mature Singaporean PMEs who find it harder to secure jobs, the WDA will provide incentives to private search and placement firms to help these PMEs access more job opportunities. This initiative will be launched on 1 October 2015 and will run for two years.
Rejection of work pass applications supported by doubtful qualifications
Currently, the MOM bans applicants with forged qualifications from working in Singapore for life. In a further step, the MOM will reject work pass applications which contain doubtful qualifications such as those from degree mills. In order to facilitate the transfer of expertise to Singaporean PMEs, the MOM will pay more attention to the relevant experience of EP and S pass applicants, especially those applying for professional occupations.
Establishment of Employment Claims Tribunal and wider coverage under mediation framework
The MOM will establish the Employment Claims Tribunal in Q1 2016 to provide PMEs who earn more than S$4,500 a month and therefore not covered by the Employment Act with an accessible and expeditious avenue to resolve their statutory and contractual salary-related disputes.
Further, coverage under the Tripartite Mediation Framework (“TMF”) will be enhanced to:
- cover re-employment and employment statutory issues;
- remove the salary cap of S$4,500 to cover all PME union members in non-unionised companies; and
- include rank-and-file union members in non-unionised companies.