It was earlier reported that an Indian national had posted on the Singapore Expat Forum revealing that he was first rejected by the Manpower Ministry when he applied for an Employment Pass (EP) with a salary of S$5,500. However, when his company later applied for him on S-Pass at S$6,000, his application became successful.
The foreign talent from India wrote, “I am from India and moving to Singapore for job as a Software Engineer. I am being offered SGD5500 monthly in my offer letter. According to my employer, they had applied for E-Pass but since it was not given, I am being issued IPA (In-Principle Approval) for S-pass.”
“The issue is that on IPA my salary is mentioned SGD6000 instead of SGD5500. I enquired with my employer. She told me that they have requested correction from the ministry which might take around 2-3 weeks. Meantime, IPA is still valid and I can use it to come to Singapore as it is already approved,” he added.
In the end, the company said it would inform MOM about the “mistake” made while declaring his salary in the S-Pass application so that MOM would issue a new IPA letter to the Indian national stating the correct salary of SGD5,500, which tally with the one in the offer letter. IPA letter is needed by the immigration when a foreigner first steps into Singapore at the port of entry, intending to work in Singapore.
“They (the company) have agreed for waiting for IPA approval with correct salary and come after it has been revised. I know that s pass IPA approval usually taked 2-3 weeks,” he said.
FT: I have friends in the same company
Then, the foreigner revealed, “I have some of my friends there in the same company. Also, its a reputed tech company. So, I know that I can trust them. What I was worried about was the variation of salary in offer letter and IPA at Immigration Check. If ICA would have requested the offer letter and found the variation, then it would have cause problem at Airport. Right ???”
“Apart from that cancellation of IPA in case of correction is also a concern. Although they (the company) assured me that its highly unlikely case as amount being offered currently for S pass is far more than the minimum threshold. But I think waiting for Revised (IPA) letter seems like a safe route,” he added.
Hence, it appears that even though this Indian national has never worked in Singapore before, he already has friends, presumably also from India, working here. In particular, according to him, his friends are currently working in the same company that he would soon be working in.
In any case, it’s not known why the company didn’t want to hire Singaporeans locally but prefers to hire foreigners from thousands of miles away instead.
In 2013 during a Parliamentary debate, then Manpower Minister Tan Chuan Jin revealed that there had been cases where companies were “hiring-their-own-kind”, discriminating against Singaporean job applicants.
“Let me be quite blunt… If this hiring is indeed because they care only about choosing familiar candidates and not about hiring the ‘best man for the job’, then such practices have no place in Singapore’s workplaces,” Mr Tan said.
“Discrimination will not and cannot be tolerated. Stating the principle however does not mean it is easy to implement. I think we all recognise that proving discrimination is sometimes difficult. It is not always possible to discern whether such hiring practices are legitimately based on the objective requirements of the job or motivated by personal connections.”
“I know that Singaporeans perceive some outcomes to be against the principles of meritocracy and fairness, and I fully understand why we feel angry in the process,” he added.
He told companies doing business in Singapore to comply with the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices.
Mr Tan warned, “If there are issues, MOM will step in to investigate and we will not hesitate to curtail work pass privileges. We will explore a practical process where Singaporeans are given a fair opportunity in the hiring process.”
“And we will deepen the efforts with companies to develop a local pipeline for Singaporean talents. This would be a consideration as companies are brought into Singapore. We believe in taking a systemic approach towards this issue, with a combination of structural and process adjustments.”
Later the Fair Consideration Framework and the Jobs Bank was introduced by MOM to help protect Singaporean job applicants from discrimination.
However, in 2015, Mr Tan was transferred out from the Manpower Ministry to the Social Family Ministry and in 2017, he was taken out from the Cabinet and the government altogether and assigned to be the Speaker of Parliament.