Sunday, 1 October 2023

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Strange replies in Parliamentary? (Part 4): Employment pass drop?

By Leong Sze Hian

2,600 EPs not renewed?

I refer to the article “Some 2,600 Employment Passes not renewed in first half of this year” (Straits Times, Nov 14).

It states that “About 2,600 Employment Passes (EPs) were not renewed in the first half of this year.”

But how many new EPs granted?

This statistic may be just half the story because it does not say how many new EPs were granted?

According to MOM’s statistics, the number of EPs decreased by 1,700 in the same period cited in the Parliamentary reply (first half of this year).

So, if 2,600 EPs were not renewed, and the drop in EPs was only 1,700 – it may mean that the difference may be due to new EPs granted.

However, this may still not be the full story. How many of the 2,600 EPs not renewed were rejections and how many may be voluntary non-renewal? Or does this number include voluntary non-renewals in the first place?

Total passes increased by 10,000?

Just giving us the EP statistic may also be even much less than half the story, because S-passes increased by 11,700 in the same period.

How many new S-passes were granted? And how many S-pass renewals were rejected, voluntarily lapsed?

As it is, all that we can tell from the MOM statistics is that the total number of passes (EP and S-pass) increased by 10,000 in just half a year.

Why allow EP to downgrade to S-pass?

As media reports have said that some EPs became S-Passes, how many of these “downgraders”?

Why supposedly tighten on EPs, and yet allow them to become S-pass?

Arguably, it is the S-pass that may be taking away the most jobs that Singaporeans can do and want.

Foreign spouses, foreign interns, etc?

What about foreign spouses on Long-Term Visit Passes (LTVPs) who can work with a letter of consent from MOM, foreign university interns and foreign students studying in Singaporeans who become interns? All these are not counted in the foreign worker statistics and the foreign workers’ quotas don’t apply to them.

Curtailing the influx of foreign workers – really?

Fair Consideration Framework?

As to “In January last year, the qualifying salary for EP holders was raised from $2,800 to $3,000. This will go up to $3,300 from January next year for young graduates from good educational institutions, under the new Fair Consideration Framework. Firms must also advertise on a government jobs bank for 14 days before applying for an EP”

– some employers may simply apply for the S-pass instead – no need to pay the increased minimum salary under EP.

With regard to the FCF, some employers may simply go through the motion to advertise on a government job bank for 14 days, and then employ an EP after the 14 days.

Or they could just employ S-passes and bypass the FCF all together.

Serious replies in Parliament?

Seriously, are we really serious in the replies that we get in Parliament? Oh, I almost forgot, if we can’t even require employers to issue pay slips – how serious can we be?

In this connection, as has been reported in the past, when workers complain about pay issues and the Ministry of Manpower asks for proof – so how to prove the cases when they don’t have pay slips?

Uniquely Singapore!

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