Singapore — Manpower Minister Josephine Teo announced on Wednesday (March 3) tighter new rules for foreigners on Dependant’s Passes (DP) who want to work in Singapore.
From May 1 of this year, they will need to obtain their own work passes, such as an Employment Pass, S Pass or Work Permit.
Most DP holders, usually family members of Employment Pass holders, do not work.
DP holders who do work so far only needed to obtain a letter of consent (LOC) from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
Ms Teo said DP holders who have got work via LOCs make up only around 1 per cent of all work pass holders.
She added that in June last year, there were almost 190,000 Employment Pass holders as well as 33,100 people with “other work passes,” including DP holders with LOCs.
“Our fundamental objective is always to serve the interests of Singaporean workers. Access to foreign workers is meant to help grow a larger economic pie than we otherwise can. Therefore, the foreign workforce must act as a complement to our local workforce,” she said.
But she gave the assurance that time would be given for DP holders with LOCs and their employers to comply with the new requirements.
“Most of them meet prevailing work-pass criteria. Those that do not will have to cease working in Singapore,” Ms Teo added.
This new requirement is in line with other restrictions on foreign workers in Singapore, which were implemented after last year’s General Election, when foreign employment was a much-discussed issue.
Some have pointed out, however, that the new requirement would unfairly target women, many of whom have found part-time employment via LOCs, a Bloomberg report says.
International schools may suffer as well, as the partners of Employment Pass holders have traditionally taken on substitute positions.
Indeed, policies of late have been in favour of the local workforce.
Last year, when employment shrunk the most in over 20 years, foreign workers suffered the most from job losses.
Ms Teo said, “The foreign workforce accounted for all of our employment contraction in 2020. I won’t say foreign-workforce policies alone made this happen, but they certainly played a part.”
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