Josephine Teo: General Election not the driving force behind stricter foreign work pass policy

Josephine Teo: General Election not the driving force behind stricter foreign work pass policy

Yesterday (27 Aug), Manpower Minister Josephine Teo announced a stricter work pass requirements for foreign PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians) working in Singapore.

Under the new rules, companies applying for new Employment Passes (EPs) for foreign PMETs will need to pay them a fixed monthly salary of at least $4,500, up from the current $3,900. This will take effect from 1 Sep. For those in the financial services sector, the new EP holders will need to be paid at least $5,000 instead. This will start from 1 Dec.

In the case of S Pass holders, the minimum qualifying monthly salary will be raised from current $2,400 to $2,500, starting from 1 Oct. For EP and S Pass renewals, the same rules will take effect from 1 May next year. The new changes mark the biggest adjustment for work passes in the last decade.

With regard to the higher minimum qualifying $5,000 salary for foreign PMETs working in the financial services sector, Mrs Teo said that it was singled out because of the higher salary norms, as well as strong hiring capacity in the sector.

When reporters asked whether there were political considerations in making the latest updates to Singapore’s foreign work pass policy, she denied there was any.

“It is inevitable that some people will attribute (the foreign work pass policy changes) to the elections, some people will claim credit for having brought it about, but you can’t let that be the driving force for your decision,” Mrs Teo said.

“The reason to move is the conditions have changed a lot since the last time we adjusted (in Budget 2020), and the conditions will continue to change, and there is slack in the job market already. And if you choose not to move now in order to avoid that suspicion, and then wait six months later (till Budget 2021) to do so, have we done a better thing for Singaporeans? I think the answer is no.”

PM Lee: “Percentage of the popular vote is not as high as I had hoped for”

In the recent general election last month (Jul 2020), PAP’s overall vote share fell from the a whopping 69.9% in 2015 GE to 61.2%. In addition, it also lost 2 GRCs, Aljunied and Sengkang, for the first time in Singapore’s history to the oppositions.

Following the results of 2020 GE, PM Lee said that the percentage of the popular vote that his party had garnered was “not as high” as he had hoped for.

“We have a clear mandate, but the percentage of the popular vote is not as high as I had hoped for,” he said during the PAP’s post-results press conference on 11 Jul.

Meanwhile, Singaporean PMETs continue to struggle to find jobs in their own home country.

One of them interviewed by the local media was Jeff (not his real name), 49. He became unemployed in October last year after he was retrenched from a multinational manufacturing company. While looking for a new job, he sent out over 500 job applications to numerous companies but only got 1 response (‘Retrenched SG gets only 1 response from 500 job applications; Heng says to “upskill”‘).

And this was even after he began applying for jobs that offered about $2,000 a month, which is about one third of his $5,900 monthly pay he used to get while working for a multinational company.

“I have worked for 26 years and so far I’ve only joined three companies. I’m not a job hopper, I’m not the kind to leave for higher pay… It’s very simple, I just need a job to move on with my life,” said Jeff.

Jeff needed to get a job quickly because he has a wife, two children and his parents to support at home.


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