Singapore – In response to the Ministry of Manpower’s announcement that the salary criteria for Employment and S Passes would be raised, the public questioned why the same couldn’t be applied for the local workforce first.
Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo announced on Wednesday (August 26) that the Government will be raising the salary criteria for EPs and S Passes due to the weak labour market conditions, an effect caused by the pandemic. “With Covid-19 and the economic disruption it has caused, there is now more slack in the labour market. We will, therefore, make further adjustments to our foreign workforce policies,” said Ms Teo in a channelnewsasia.com report.
“Even as we stay open to the world to accelerate our recovery, the crisis makes it all the more important that employers give fair treatment to Singaporeans.”
The adjustments in foreign workforce policies will affect EPs and S Passes, which currently require a minimum monthly salary of S$3,900 and S$2,400, respectively.
The announcement was made in addition to President Halimah Yacob’s speech regarding job competition during the opening of the 14th Parliament on Monday (August 24). Mdm Halimah noted the existing competition in employment brought by foreign talents could become a divisive concern and would be addressed accordingly.
Ms Teo explained that for every EP holder, there are nearly seven locals employed in PMET (professional, managerial, executive and technician) positions. The foreign workforce policies were established to support economic growth, thus creating good jobs for Singaporeans. “There is regular calibration, to enable firms to access the manpower they need while ensuring a strong Singaporean core, said Ms Teo.
Members from the online community had difficulty finding the logic behind the announcement, given that it was presented in a way that would benefit the local workforce. Many felt that such a move would lead to local employees losing out further. Facebook user James See wondered why there was a need to purposefully raise the salaries of foreigners when “they can hire equally capable locals and pay them less.”
Meanwhile, Facebook user Prek M Bek looked at it from another angle and commented that by raising the minimum salary requirements of foreign talents, companies might resort to hiring locals instead. “It might no longer be worth the administrative time and effort to hire FTs and might help sway them into hiring locals,” said the netizen. However, the issue of employers having to contribute to a local staff’s CPF (Central Provident Fund) remains.
Others highlighted that the priority should be extended to Singaporeans first, given the ongoing crisis. In terms of addressing the issue, many also noted it would be more feasible to revise the quota or percentage of employing foreign workers instead of raising their salaries.