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On MOM watch list: 350 companies which unfairly hire foreigners over S'poreans

SINGAPORE — Out of the 610 companies on a government watch list for unfairly hiring foreigners over Singaporeans, 260 have been taken off but 350 are still on it, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said.

On MOM watch list: 350 companies which unfairly hire foreigners over S'poreans

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo called on MPs to support her ministry when they get appeals from firms that have not been fair in their hiring practices towards Singaporeans.

SINGAPORE — Out of the 610 companies on a government watch list for unfairly hiring foreigners over Singaporeans, 260 have been taken off but 350 are still on it, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said.

Speaking on Tuesday (March 5) during the debate on her ministry’s budget, Mrs Teo said that the firms that remain on the watch list of the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) cut across all sectors and sizes, with the top sectors being administrative and support services, education, information and communications, professional services, and the wholesale trade.

The FCF, which was launched in August 2014, is part of the Government’s overall effort to strengthen the Singaporean core in the workforce and it sets out expectations for companies to consider Singaporeans fairly for job openings.

Being placed on the watch list means that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will scrutinise these firms’ Employment Pass applications more closely.

Employment Passes allow foreign professionals, managers and executives to work in Singapore.

Since 2016, a combined 2,300 Employment Pass applications have been withdrawn by employers and rejected or withheld by MOM.

While the authorities take a firm stance against errant companies, Mrs Teo said that the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) works with them to improve their human resource (HR) practices.

Besides the 260 firms that have been dropped from the watch list after they improved their HR practices, firms on the list have hired more than 3,800 Singaporeans who are professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) so far, she added.

Mrs Teo cited the example of a firm in the architecture and engineering industry that was placed on the watch list in June 2017 and was not keen to work with Tafep.

The ministry curtailed its work pass privileges after unsuccessful repeated attempts to engage the firm. Its HR manager appealed multiple times to her Member of Parliament (MP) to be taken off the watch list, with the firm claiming that the Employment Passes were critical as they were needed for a public-sector project.

After looking into the case and consulting the agencies overseeing the project, the MOM found that the company had barely tried to improve the hiring of Singaporeans and so, rejected its Employment Pass applications and the MP’s appeal.

Realising there was no shortcut, the company reached out to government agency Workforce Singapore and made plans to take on interns from polytechnics and universities here. In one-and-a-half years, it hired 14 more Singaporeans, Mrs Teo said.

While she acknowledged that Tafep’s actions are unpopular, she called on MPs to back the MOM “even if these companies appeal to you”.

“I can assure you that Tafep is not vindictive. It only seeks to ensure that our PMETs’ interests are properly safeguarded,” she said. “Employers who are fair to locals need not worry, but if they are not, please understand why we don’t accept it.”

She assured MPs that MOM deals firmly with employers who wish to skirt its controls, such as by keeping a lookout for firms on the watch list which use related business or corporate entities to apply for Employment Passes.

“For such cases, we can — and have — curtailed the work pass privileges of all the related entities,” she said.

Related topics

foreign employment MOM Josephine Teo

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