Is a foreign labour policy review in the books?

Will the slowing economy impact the policy? Singapore’s manpower minister explains

Is a foreign labour policy review in the books?

Will Singapore’s slowing economy and increasing unemployment rate impact the city-state’s policy on Employment Pass (EP) applications?

Last week, a member of parliament (MP) posed the question to Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, who shared that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and tripartite partners are closely monitoring the labour market.

Additionally, they are continually checking wage levels of both local PMETs as well as EP holders, with Teo ensuring that MOM will revise EP salary thresholds “if necessary”.

The EP criteria were last reviewed in 2017, she explained, with higher salary thresholds imposed not just at entry level but also for older EP holders.

The EP is for foreign PMETs, who earn a minimum monthly salary of $3,600 – although more experienced and qualified candidates require higher salaries.

The minister shared that EP holders typically renew their pass every two to three years, and all new and renewal applications are subject to the prevailing salary thresholds.

“The increased salary thresholds reflect local salary progression, so that employers do not substitute local PMETs with cheaper EP holders, and that EP holders are of the right calibre to complement our local workforce,” she said.

READ MORE: MOM rejects employers’ plea to hire foreigners

The MP also asked Teo how companies will be dealt with if they offered local employees short-term contracts while reviewing EP applications for permanent positions.

“The scenario that the member outlined, where for the same job, an EP holder is offered a permanent position, but a local offered a fixed term contract, would appear to be a breach of the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices,” she said.

“So far, MOM and the Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) have not received reports of this nature. We urge members of the public who are aware of such cases to report them.”

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