Employers 'should not take easy option'

PHOTO: Employers 'should not take easy option'

The move requiring firms to prove they tried to hire Singaporeans first before turning to foreigners is a strong signal from the Government that they should not go for the "easy option", Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob said on Sunday.

"This is the first major signalling (by the Government)... that you must give priority to Singaporeans," said the veteran unionist.

"If you look at our history, from the time we became independent to now... we have not had such a signalling."

The MP for Jurong GRC was speaking to reporters at the launch of a new social service hub for the elderly in Bukit Batok East. The hub is set up by Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities and Bukit Batok East division.

Under the Fair Consideration Framework announced last week, all companies with more than 25 employees must advertise professional, managerial and executive posts that pay less than $12,000 a month, in a new government-run jobs bank from August next year.

The advertisements need to run for at least 14 days before the firms can apply to the Ministry of Manpower for an Employment Pass (EP) for a foreigner.

Those who fail to use the jobs bank will have their EP applications rejected.

Another change is that EP holders hired from January next year must be given a higher starting pay of $3,300 a month, up from $3,000 now.

Some have questioned the effectiveness of such a move, pointing out that companies may just go through the motions of advertising jobs.

But Madam Halimah said: "Of course, people can say, 'Well, after the 14 days, they can do what they want', but let's give this initiative a chance."

It is in the interest of the employers to take this seriously, she added.

"Otherwise, there will be a lot of demand for even more drastic measures," she told reporters.

While the new measures will take effect only next year, she urged employers to start reviewing their recruitment processes now.

At a separate event on Sunday, Senior Minister of State for Manpower Amy Khor said the framework is "really about returning to the fundamentals of meritocracy".

"The framework is not about hiring Singaporeans first or giving preferences to them, but giving them fair consideration, having a level playing field and hiring based on merit," she told reporters at a job fair.

"There is some perception by Singaporeans that some employers have less-than-progressive hiring practices... that some employers may be hiring their own kind. So I think we need to send a strong signal and reminder to employers."

limyihan@sph.com.sg

Additional reporting by Lim Yan Liang


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