Exempted from job ads, but not fair hiring

SINGAPORE - A recently announced move to give Singaporeans a fair chance in getting hired exempts some firms from a job-advertising requirement. But it does not exempt them from considering Singaporeans fairly.

This was emphasised by Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin yesterday, who addressed the issue of smaller firms, and those hiring top-paid employees, being exempted from advertising vacancies on a new national online job bank.

Mr Tan added in Parliament that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) would take to task any company which has discriminatory recruitment practices.

MOM has its own alert system to identify errant firms. Apart from complaints that land at its door, it also keeps an eye on firms with a lower proportion of Singaporeans compared to their industry peers.

The Fair Consideration Framework, which takes effect from Aug 1 next year, is expected to give Singaporean professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) a fairer shot at jobs.

Under it, companies must put out advertisements for vacancies on an online job bank, before they can make a new Employment Pass (EP) application. Not doing so can result in their EP applications being rejected.

However, some firms are exempted from the advertising requirement. Mr Tan explained that smaller firms - such as those with 25 or fewer employees - do not have the sophisticated human-resource management to respond to many job applications.

Applying the new framework to larger companies will "yield the greatest benefit", as they employ most of the EP holders and offer the jobs Singaporeans want, Mr Tan said. About 75 per cent of EP holders are in firms with more than 25 employees.

Jobs with monthly salaries of $12,000 and more also do not need to be advertised because open advertising is not usually done for such jobs, he said.

Moreover, these jobs cover only 5 per cent of the local workforce.

Rank-and-file job vacancies also do not need to be advertised, because there are other tools - such as levies and dependency-ratio ceilings - to ensure firms search for suitable Singaporeans first.

MOM will "impose greater scrutiny" on firms with a low proportion of Singaporeans at the PME level for their industry, Mr Tan said. While this may vary across sectors, there are "internal thresholds" that will prompt MOM to take a closer look at specific firms if needed, he said, adding that "other factors, such as how fast the proportion changes over time, which could be due to promotion, retirement or retrenchment patterns, are also relevant".

MOM will also flag firms which have received repeated complaints about unfair HR practices, and they will be subject to additional scrutiny in their work-pass applications. In certain cases, they may have their work-pass privileges curtailed.

"There are no exemptions for the need for firms to consider Singaporeans fairly," said Mr Tan.


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