Action taken against around 50 firms after failing to give locals a fair chance when recruiting

Action taken against around 50 firms after failing to give locals a fair chance when recruiting

More than 500 Employment Pass applications from these employers have either been rejected by MOM or withdrawn by companies, says Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say.

People walk out for their lunch break at the Raffles Place financial district in Singapore. (File photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: About 50 firms “have not been receptive or cooperative” about hiring locals since being placed on the Fair Consideration Framework watchlist, said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say in Parliament on Monday (Mar 6).

As a result, more than 500 Employment Pass (EP) applications from these employers have either been rejected by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) or withdrawn by the companies, he said.

Speaking in Parliament during his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate, Mr Lim gave an update on the Fair Consideration Framework watchlist, which is a list of companies that have been identified as not meeting the minimum criteria of possessing and building a Singaporean core in their workforce, and in terms of their relevance to Singapore’s economy and society.

These companies, he said, come from various industries like information and communication technology, and finance and insurance.

“We have not seen enough improvement after six months of engagement with them,” said Mr Lim. “We will continue to curtail their work pass privileges until they improve.”

Mr Lim added that 250 companies were on the watchlist as at the end of February. Once they are placed on the watchlist, these companies are guided by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP) to improve their employment practices over a period of six months.

He noted that some have responded positively and firms have hired 800 more Singaporean professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) collectively since they were placed on the watchlist. “If they continue to improve and adopt fair and progressive practices, they can progressively be removed from the watchlist,” he said.

But Mr Lim stressed that the watchlist is a “negative measure” taken against “unfair” employers who are just a small minority of firms.

“I want to emphasise that the vast majority of the employers are treating our locals fairly,” he said. “We hope our action against these unfair employers will help reshape the local-foreign mindset for the better.”

"DIFFERENTIATED APPROACH" IN MOM’S ENGAGEMENT OF COMPANIES

As Singapore moves into the future economy, Mr Lim said it is necessary to go a step further and forge a new mindset. And the Government is “starting small” with the launch of the Human Capital Partnership earlier this month - a group of 74 employers who employ about 100,000 Singaporeans.

He said the companies are very different enterprises, but share three commitments: To strengthen the Singaporean core, to strengthen the complementarity between local and foreign employees, and to strengthen know-how transfer to groom promising local executives.

With the watchlist and Human Capital Partnership in place, Mr Lim said that in future, MOM will adopt a differentiated approach in its engagement of companies.

Human Capital Partnership employers will enjoy “fast lane” access to MOM’s development schemes and services, and will also have hotline access to MOM.

Employers who have fair workplace practices will be in the “normal lane”, said Mr Lim. This will be the majority of employers.

And employers who engage in unfair HR practices, such as those on the Fair Consideration Framework watchlist, will be in the “slow lane”.

“This will send a clear message to all employers that foreign manpower is and will always be an integral part of our Singapore workforce,” said Mr Lim. “However, we do expect and require all employers to give fair consideration to the recruitment and development of our local manpower.”

"This is not only the right thing to do for our people, but also the right thing to do for businesses for both to grow better in the future economy."

Source: CNA/lc