New Singapore rules give locals first choice of employment opportunities

Revision of employment rules means locals will have first chance at any positions advertised

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 August, 2014, 11:26pm
UPDATED : Friday, 01 August, 2014, 11:26pm


Employment rules favouring Singaporeans came into force yesterday as part of measures aimed at addressing complaints about foreigners stealing jobs from them.

Singapore-based companies needing professional workers now have to advertise on an online "jobs bank" for at least 14 days before they can seek an employment pass for a foreigner.

Policy will help them reach a larger pool of qualified local applicants

The government-run website will match employment opportunities with profiles of Singaporeans seeking employment or a change of job.

Citizens and permanent residents looking for employment must create an account on the jobs bank that will allow them to apply for vacancies.

The portal offers vacancies in sectors such as accounting, banking, engineering, the sciences and sales. More than 16,000 positions are available, about half of them for professionals, managers and executives.

In a blog post on Thursday, the manpower ministry said it would check firms that have "a disproportionately low concentration of Singaporeans" at the professional level, as well as those that were accused of "nationality-based or other discriminatory" hiring practices.

Firms with 25 or fewer staff, or those recruiting for jobs paying S$12,000 (HK$74,500) and above a month, will be exempted from the advertising rule.

The manpower ministry said it would provide support to companies with low numbers of Singaporean employees on "how to go about their training needs and grow a Singaporean core in their workforce".

The American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore welcomed the rules.

"AmCham members anticipate that the new policy will help them reach a larger pool of qualified local applicants," James Andrade, the group's chairman, said.

Authorities have been phasing in measures to tighten worker inflows after facing criticism from Singaporeans, who accuse foreigners of competing with them for jobs, housing, schools, medical care and space in public transport.

Discontent spilled into general elections in 2011 when the ruling People's Action Party won its lowest vote count after more than 50 years in power.

The nation's low birth rate had prompted the government to grant an average of 18,500 new citizenships every year between 2008 and 2012, helping the population to surge by 30 per cent since 2004 to hit 5.4 million last year.

About 38 per cent of Singapore's work force of 3.44 million people are non-residents. There were 175,100 foreigners holding employment passes as of December last year.

Another 770,000 hold work permits for low-skilled or basic labouring positions in construction, the marine industries and other sectors normally shunned by Singaporeans, and 215,000 foreign women work as domestic helpers.