Employers eye overseas talent as Singapore mandates flexible work arrangements

Some employers say FWA mandate would make hiring overseas more attractive

Employers eye overseas talent as Singapore mandates flexible work arrangements

Singapore's local employees might have a harder time finding work due to the government's recent mandate on flexible work arrangements (FWAs), according to some employers.

Starting in December, employers across Singapore are mandated to have processes in place to consider formal requests for FWAs from employees.

But this new order might make hiring overseas a more attractive option, some employers told Channel News Asia (CNA). Felix Sim, the founder of blockchain venture builder Salad Ventures, said if FWAs become the norm, more employers might become less dependent on Singapore-based staff.

"The 'local' premium will soon become irrelevant for most businesses," Sim told CNA.

According to Sim, employers will be able to truly compare local candidates' abilities and pay package against possibilities of hiring overseas.

"It will start to be more challenging for employees to look for a job," he warned.

Singaporeans need to 'level up'

Similar sentiments were aired by Tan Wan Ting, founder of digital marketing agency Weave Asia, who told CNA that she may have to hire more workers from Malaysia or farther abroad.

Weave Asia has an office with 11 full-time employees in Singapore, with a flexible arrangement allowing staff to work from different locations, according to the report. But Tan said she was concerned that requests for flexi-time measures would impact how contactable her employees are and their response speed.

She said one way to keep Singaporeans on employers' radar is if their skills remain unmatched by candidates abroad.

"Singaporeans, we really need to level up," Tan said.

Their remarks come amid already growing concerns that foreigners were coming to Singapore to take away locals' jobs. In 2023, non-residents made up 83,500 of the 88,400 total employment growth in Singapore.

But the Ministry of Manpower assured that the high share of non-resident employment was because of an increase Work Permits and other Work Passes holders in jobs that Singaporeans don't want to do.

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