TOC reported yesterday (14 Jan) that employers will now face prosecution in court and other harsh penalties for discriminatory hiring practices, including those involving making false declarations on fair hiring consideration.

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo warned that employers found guilty of engaging in workplace discrimination will not be permitted to apply for new work passes for a minimum of 12 months, 6 months more than the previous penalty. In the “most egregious cases”, she said the debarment period may extend to up to 24 months.

“This will mean stronger deterrence against workplace discrimination of any kind. More importantly, it sends a clear signal about the need for fairness at work,” she said. However, she also added that instances of discriminatory hiring practices are declining.

Under the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF), employers are required to advertise job openings for positions with a monthly salary of under S$15,000 on the national Jobs Bank for a minimum of 14 days before they are allowed to apply for an Employment Pass (EP) for a foreigner.

Together with the announcement of harsher penalties for discriminatory hiring practices, Manpower Ministry (MOM) also named a few companies caught for flouting FCF.

Companies caught for pre-selecting foreign job applicants and didn’t conduct any local job interviews

One company, Ti2 Logistics Pte Ltd, was caught for making a false declaration to MOM. It submitted an EP application for a foreign job applicant for the position of business development manager. It had also advertised for the position of accounts manager on the Jobs Bank.

For the former role, it made a false declaration that it had interviewed two Singaporeans and considered candidates fairly when it had not done so. For second role, the firm also treated the job advertising requirement under the FCF as a paper exercise, posting a job description unrelated to the actual job.

In reality, it had already pre-selected an EP applicant for the business development position and had no intention to interview any Singaporean candidates. MOM charged the company with one count of making a false declaration to the Controller of Work Passes in its EP application. It has also been debarred from hiring new EP holders or renewing existing work passes for two years.

Like Ti2 Logistics, two other companies also did not interview any locals even though they had put up advertisements on Jobs Bank. Before putting up the job advertisement, Meyer Burger (Singapore) Pte Ltd had already interviewed a foreigner overseas and deemed him suitable for a process engineer post in Singapore. It then advertised the position on Jobs Bank for the purpose of applying an EP for him.

Meyer Burger did not carry out any interviews since it had already made up its mind to hire the foreign worker. The job advertisement was posted solely to make an EP application. MOM debarred the company from hiring new EP holders or renewing existing work passes for two years.

Tarantula Global Holdings Pte Ltd similarly submitted an EP application for the position of senior IT support engineer. Like Meyer Burger and Ti2 Logistics, the company had pre-selected the EP applicant, who was a former employee of an affiliated overseas company. It put up a job advertisement, but likewise did not interview any candidates other than the chosen one. The company was debarred by MOM from hiring new EP holders or renewing existing work passes for 12 months.

Another company, Nihon Premium Clinic Pte Ltd, submitted an EP application for the position of regional customer development manager. It omitted listing critical key criteria in its job advertisement like the ability to speak fluent Japanese and Mandarin, when they were actually required for the job.

As a result, none of the job applications submitted was suitable for consideration as the local job applicants did not know that fluency in Japanese and Mandarin was required. Instead, an EP applicant recommended by one of the company’s shareholders was deemed suitable after an interview.

For not giving fair consideration to Singaporean candidates, Nihon Premium Clinic was debarred from hiring new EP holders or renewing existing work passes for 12 months.

Wasting Singaporeans’ time

All these companies could have avoided legal troubles with MOM if they had taken the trouble to at least “wayang” a bit to interview some local candidates.

In such cases, the companies can still give the excuse that they have interviewed the locals and did not find any of them suitable. It would then be difficult for MOM to find fault with these companies.

However, if they do so, it will also mean wasting more of Singaporean applicants’ time by inviting them to come for “bogus” interviews so as to help them apply EPs for their already pre-selected foreign candidates.

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