Due to the suspected discriminatory hiring practices in their workforce profile, another 47 employers were added to the watchlist of Fair Consideration Framework (FCF), said Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Wednesday (5 Aug).

“These employers will have their Employment Pass (EP) applications closely scrutinised, and those who are recalcitrant or uncooperative will have their work pass privileges cut back,” MOM added.

According to MOM, those companies comprise both large and smaller firms, with the largest employing nearly 2,000 professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs).

Of those, 30 are in the financial and professional services sectors while the remaining 17 are in administrative and support services, manufacturing and education.

Those employers include banks and fund managers, management consulting firms as well as firms providing project management and engineering services.

Comparing to industry peers, the Ministry highlighted that 30 employers from the financial and professional services sectors have a high concentration of PMETs from single nationalities while 18 of the firms have foreigners comprising more than half of their PMET workforce.

The Ministry went on to give example of a wealth management firm which about three-quarters of their PMETs are of the same nationality, as well as another example of a bank who have about two-thirds of same nationality PMETs.

“We will subject their hiring to closer scrutiny to ensure that there is no nationality bias against locals, which is unacceptable and not in line with fair, merit-based hiring,” the Ministry added.

Meanwhile, MOM will also further investigate another 240 firms which have been identified through data analytics for possible pre-selection of foreigners or not adhering to the spirit of the job advertising requirement under the FCF.

Over 1,200 employers have been scrutinised and a total of 3,200 EP applications have been rejected or withheld by MOM since 2016 

Since the introduction of FCF watchlist in 2016, over 1,200 employers have been scrutinised and a total of 3,200 EP applications have been rejected or withheld by MOM, or withdrawn by employers.

Beyond this, the employers on the watchlist have hired more than 4,800 Singaporean PMETs over the same time period, according to MOM.

On top of the 30 employers from financial and professional services sectors that added to the watchlist on Wednesday, MOM revealed that 190 firms from the same sectors have been placed on the watchlist since 2016, but 100 have since been removed after showing their strong commitments to improve hiring practices.

Earlier in March, the Minister of Manpower Josephine Teo revealed that there are still 350 companies on the government watch list of entities that unfairly hire foreigners over Singaporeans. Of the 610 companies that were on the list, 260 have been taken off.

According to Ms Teo, the objective of putting the errant employers to the watchlist is not just to penalise errant employers, but also “want them to improve” in fairly considering Singaporeans for employment offer.

Launched in August 2014, FCF was part of the government’s effort to increase the representation of Singaporeans in the workforce, setting out expectations for companies to fairly consider Singaporeans for job opening.

In July last year, the FCF requirements were expanded so that more companies have to advertise more vacancies to locals before MOM will accept their EP applications.

Netizens wonder why MOM only take action now as the issue of higher number of foreign PMETs is not a new thing in Singapore

A bunch of critical comments were emerged on the social media after the MOM made such announcements. Penning their thoughts on the Facebook page of The Straits Times and Channel News Asia, the netizens wondered why MOM only realised about this issue presently given that the issue of unfair hiring practices have been happening for a long time.

They also pointed out that all the EP and work passes are issued and approved by MOM, questioning whether MOM have chose to “sweep the issue under carpet” or did all these just for”a drama and a wayang”.

A couple of netizens also criticised MOM for “double standard” on setting the quota and levy for work permit but not for EP.

One netizen, who self-profess to be in a Human Resource (HR) position claimed that “recruiters and employers were engaged in all kinds of discriminatory recruitment practices”, but just the Government “closed both eyes to it”.

Another netizen also shared her experience of working in the sectors which always hire foreign PMETs. “The worse is if HR department got one of their own kind then the whole organisation will be flooded with their people,” the netizen wrote.

A handful of netizens also called out the MOM to take immediate actions instead of just placing the errant employers on the watchlist.

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