On 1 August 2014, the Ministry of Manpower's ("MOM") Fair Consideration Framework ("FCF") came into full force. The MOM also recently released new information regarding the FCF, stating that:
- organizations may be asked to justify why they are hiring a foreign national over a Singaporean when applying for employment passes ("EPs"); and
- there are new exemptions from the advertising requirements.
Summary of Updates
Reasons justifying EP application
The MOM encourages organizations to avoid stating preferences for Singaporeans or any nationality in job advertisements. However, organizations must now be prepared that MOM may ask them to provide reasons for not hiring a Singaporean when applying for an EP. Organizations can get ready for these changes by retaining interview and job offer records to produce to the MOM as evidence if their EP applications are challenged.
Additionally, the MOM has added new exemptions from the FCF's advertising requirement. The full list of exemptions is as follows:
- firms that hire 25 or fewer employees;
- jobs paying a fixed monthly salary of SGD 12,000 and above;
- (new) intra-corporate transferees ("ICTs"); and
- (new) a job that is necessary for short-term contingencies not longer than one month.
Exemption 3 is provided to facilitate intra-organization transfers. An ICT is defined under the World Trade Organization's General Agreement on Trade in Services as a manager, executive or specialist. In order to take advantage of the exemption, the ICT must also have worked for the organization outside Singapore for one year or longer before being posted to Singapore. An ICT's stay in Singapore is limited to three years, but this period may be extended by two years for a total period not exceeding five years.
Exemption 4 is provided to allow organizations to address unexpected contingencies where it is impracticable to meet the advertising requirements. However, an EP holder under this exemption cannot renew the EP or apply for a new EP for a period of three months after the expiry of the EP.
Recap: Fair Consideration Framework's Advertising Requirements
If a firm wants to hire a foreign national on an EP, it has to advertise the job vacancy on the Jobs Bank (https://www.jobsbank.gov.sg/).The advertisement must run for at least 14 calendar days before an EP application can be made. The vacancy must also be open to Singaporeans and must comply with the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices.
The FCF is designed to ensure that organizations do not adopt discriminatory hiring practices. To this end, the MOM has been increasingly active in reaching out to organizations and requesting for information regarding their employment practices to ensure compliance. Organizations must therefore take care to ensure that they comply with the FCF requirements.