Manpower Minister Josephine Teo announced on Wednesday (26 Aug) that there will be a hike in the minimum salary criteria for Employment Passes (EPs) and S Passes amid the weak labour market conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With COVID-19 and the economic disruption it has cause, there is now more slack in the labour market. We will therefore make further adjustments to our foreign workforce policies,” said Ms Teo.
“Even as we stay open to the world to accelerate our recovery, the crisis makes it all the more important that employers give fair treatment to Singaporeans.
“We will ensure that employers uphold both the letter and spirit of the Fair Consideration Framework. We will closely examine retrenchment exercises to ensure they are carried out fairly,” she added.
As of now, individuals holding EPs have to earn a minimum of S$3,900 a month, whereas those on S Passes must earn a minimum of S$2,400 a month. The salary requirement for older and more experienced workers are higher.
Following this announcement, Progress Singapore Party (PSP) member Jeffrey Khoo took to his Facebook on Thursday (27 Aug) to stress the importance of “finding a balance” in this matter.
Mr Khoo, who contested in West Coast GRC in GE2020, asserted that the objective must always be to create opportunities for well-paying jobs for Singaporean PMETs (professionals, managers, executives, and technicians).
“For jobs that Singaporeans are not interested to take on, we should welcome foreign talents and not make it difficult for them to fill these roles. Singaporeans, be they job seeker or employer, needs must come first,” he added.
Mr Khoo went on to say that although it is not inconceivable for some companies to suffer from higher cost in employing Singaporeans, they would need to re-examine their business model and costs.
Depending on cheap labour is not sustainable in the long run, he stressed.
Citing the finance industry as an example – where foreigner talents are paid reasonably well – Mr Khoo suggested that instead of implementing a general salary for EPs and S Passes, it would be more beneficial if the Government were to be “more granular and impose the salary requirements based on industry”.
“We could study the foreign talent percentage in each industry and apply a suitable salary criteria to control the numbers? Something to think about,” he remarked.