A foreign expat posted a message on a popular expat forum last month (27 Mar) asking for advice from fellow expats.
The poster who claims to be an Employment Pass (EP) holder, said he and his wife have been living in Singapore for the past 10 years. His wife was on Dependant’s Pass (DP) till Aug 2018 when she obtained her own EP and started working as a risk and compliance expert in a Pharmaceutical company drawing $10,000 a month.
Then in Jan 2020, she got a new offer from a French company, which offered her $13,000 a month. After accepting the new offer, she duly resigned from her existing employer before securing an EP from the Manpower Ministry (MOM) to work in the new company.
“Her new company applied for her EP on February 18, but it was rejected. The reason given was that the salary in the job posting by the new company was lower then the one offered to my wife,” the expat explained.
“The new company re-posted the job and kept it open for 14 days till March 12. Thereafter, they applied for my wife’s EP again.”
That it to say, when the French company re-posted the job on Jobs Bank, they have no intention of hiring any locals through the platform since they have already decided to hire the expat’s wife. In other words, the re-posting on the Jobs Bank is just to “wayang” (to show).
Apparently the new application was still pending and his wife’s previous employer canceled her EP on 16 Mar. This meant that she would be on a one-month short-term stay permit which would expire this Wed (15 Apr). This is to allow expats enough time to make arrangements to go back home when their EP is canceled or has expired.
As time was running out, the wife then asked the previous employer to apply for an extension of the one-month short-term stay permit which they did. However, MOM replied that extension request could only be done a week before expiry of the short-term stay permit.
“We are getting anxious day by day given these situations,” the expat said.
“Should I ask my employer to start my wife’s DP process in parallel (as I am still holding my EP)? In parallel, the EP process of my wife can continue?” he asked the expat community for their views in the forum.
“Based on your experience any clue of likely acceptance or rejection of her new EP, and current timelines for EP Approval?” he asked further. “What is the current timelines for DP approval?”
“Worse case – what to do in case – my wife’s EP doesn’t get approved, her DP doesn’t come on time, and the one month stay permit expires on April 15, and given the current flight and border closure situation, she cannot travel back to the home country,” he noted.
Jobs Bank a “wayang”
Since the launch of the national Jobs Bank supposedly to enable Singaporeans to be considered first for jobs posted there before considering any foreign applicants, many have questioned its effectiveness.
Not surprisingly, many have called the “Jobs Bank” a “wayang” – just for show. This is because a company bends on hiring a foreigner can still put up the job advertisement on Jobs Bank for 14 days just for compliance sake before hiring the foreigner. The company can always give the excuse that all the Singaporean applicants cannot meet their requirements or the foreign applicant outshines all the Singaporeans in the job interviews.
Even National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), a labour union that has been mostly supportive of PAP government, voiced its concern on whether the advertising requirement under FCF works.
In a media interview in 2015, NTUC Assistant Secretary-General and PAP MP Patrick Tay said, “Now the question is whether just by having that advertising requirement is sufficient to nudge employers to take the bold step to hire more Singaporean PMEs because it’s just a mere advertising requirement; there’s no requirement for employers to share placement figures.”
“We do not have data on rates of placement for some of these jobs advertised in the jobs bank. That’s one area I think can be improved on. Sharing data, how many of these jobs are posted, how many of these jobs actually got to local PMEs.”
Unemployment and retrenchments increasing
Meanwhile, a media article today (13 Apr) reported that economists are projecting more unemployment and retrenchments this year.
Nominated MP Walter Theseira, who is also Singapore University of Social Sciences’ associate professor of economics, said the disruption may last longer than the global financial crisis of 2008-2009.
“It’s an issue of the disease recurring potentially for months until either a vaccine is found or a substantial part of the population has been exposed to it,” he said. “From the economic perspective, as long as major parts of the world have substantial Covid-19 exposure, it seems unlikely that travel restrictions would be lifted to those parts, which will continue to severely affect tourism and business travel.”
Many companies have been observed to be holding back on hiring. HR consultant David Leong from PeopleWorldwide Consulting, said, “Hiring is frozen except for those in critical and essential services, like healthcare, environmental cleaning, logistics, manufacturing and information technology/telecommunications services.”
NUS education economist Kelvin Seah said, “Unless there is a real need for workers, most companies are likely to want to play it safe, and to hire in smaller numbers, if at all.”
University graduate Elizabeth Lee told the media when she tried to apply for a job through LinkedIn, she was “stressed”. She said, “They (LinkedIn) show you the number of people who have applied for a role and it contributes to a sense of urgency. Some jobs I applied for have hundreds of applicants, so it seems pretty bleak.”
With more locals struggling to find jobs this year, it’s not known if MOM would be issuing an EP to the expat’s wife so as to enable her to work for the French company at $13,000 a month.