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In an attempt to eliminate discrimination against locally available professionals and skilled workers, Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) this week announced a Fair Consideration Framework (FCF). In essence the new policy provides that companies that wish to do business in the country must provide a fair chance to Singaporeans before employing foreigners in skilled positions. Its provisions make it mandatory for companies to advertise locally before seeking to recruit professional abroad.   Fair chance to locals Even as Singapore continues to welcome overseas candidates for its jobs, the new regulation is an effort to ensure that local candidates are not marginalised and discriminated against. In an immigration driven country, this announcement is being seen as an attempt to provide a level playing field for local Singaporeans who are often discriminated against as companies prefer to recruit human resources aboard. Come August 1, 2014, companies will have to advertise job vacancies for PME (professional, managerial and executive) category positions for a period of at least 14 calendar days before proceeding to recruit candidates overseas and submitting new Employment Pass applications. Modifications to Employment Pass Additional regulatory modification has also been made to the Employment Pass application process. With effect from January 1, the qualifying monthly salary for fresh Singapore Employment Pass applications has been increased to S$3,300, from the present S$3,000. This applies to young graduate applicants. The qualifying monthly salary has also been hiked in the case of older applicants. Under the new regulations, older applicants will be required to command higher salaries commensurate with their work experience. Two strategic objectives With the implementation of the new FCF regulation, the government seeks to achieve two strategic objectives. It will ensure that more companies consider Singaporeans for skilled jobs based on merit and also ensure that the recruitment process is made easier for Singaporean job-seekers and potential employers. The regulation provides that vacancies for jobs that pay less than S$12,000 a month has to be mandatorily advertised on a jobs bank managed by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency. It would give employers access to a database of local candidates who are active job-seekers and increase the visibility of available opportunities for local job seekers. Ensuring compliance and skill development To ensure compliance by companies, the government also seeks to implement a regulatory system to enquire into complains against firms with discriminatory and questionable hiring practices. Firms will also be audited based on their hiring and career development processes. Based on complaints of nationality-based or discriminatory HR practices, Government agencies will classify firms for additional scrutiny. Regulations provide that if a company demonstrate a disproportionately low concentration of Singaporeans at the PME level, compared to other firms in the same industry, and do not adopt the hiring norms recommended under the FCF, MOM may curtail their work pass privileges. The government hopes that with the implementation of the FCF norms, skilled Singaporean seeking employment in the PME category will be able to successfully tap the jobs bank. Authorities believe that the data generated by the job bank it will also enable them to design better training and educational programs to meet industrial demands.  

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