Revealing the names of firms that are on the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) watch list is “counter-productive”, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo in Parliament on Friday (4 September).
She added that this is because it frustrates the named firms to hire local individuals.
“In most instances, employers on the FCF watch list have been responsive to TAFEP’s (Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices) engagement efforts and expanded their employment of local PMETs with help from Workforce Singapore,” said Ms Teo.
She continued, “Naming these firms would like have frustrated their local hiring efforts and is ultimately counter-productive.”
Ms Teo made this statement as a response to calls by a few Members of Parliament (MPs) to publicly name the companies that are on the list.
As of now, 400 firms are on the list as they have a higher percentage of foreign professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) compared to their industry peers or higher concentrations of a single foreign nationality source, the Manpower Minister said.
However, these companies – there have been 1,200 firms scrutinised via the FCF since 2016 – have not broken any rules, she said, adding that investigations have found that some employers are not genuinely familiar with local recruitment channels or whose recruitments had been limited due to orders by overseas headquarters.
If that’s not all, employment pass applications are also temporarily retained while the authorities get these firms to improve their human resource practices, Ms Teo noted. She went on to state that many firms are removed from the watch list within a year.
“Measures we take for these firms must therefore be proportional and also consider the impact on their existing local workforce,” she said.
However, for “the minority” that do not make the required adjustments, Ms Teo asserted that their work pass privileges remain suspended.
In 2020, 90 employers have had their work pass privileges suspended due to infringements under the FCF.
No Temasek-linked companies on the list
Following Ms Teo’s explanation, Workers’ Party (WP) He Ting Ru asked if there are any government-linked companies on the FCF watch list and how many firms on the watch list are “persistent offenders”.
As a reply, Ms Teo there are no Temasek-linked companies on the list and that only less than 10 per cent of firms are yet to exit the list.
“And the reason why I don’t give you a very specific number is because even if the company has exited from the watch list, it doesn’t mean we stop watching them,” she said.
Following that, PAP’s MP Patrick Tay asked if the authorities can name recalcitrant employers who have not fixed their practices after more than a year.
Ms Teo then said that naming these companies depend on what the objective is.
“If our objective is still to try and get them to improve their HR practices, what is a more effective way of doing so – naming them or continuing to suspend their work pass privileges?” she said.
In some cases, certain companies decide to leave Singapore after they can’t meet the recruitment requirements.
“And you don’t even need to name them. They find that this set of conditions is not what they would like to deal with,” she said.
She added, “We accept that and whether you name them or not wouldn’t have made much of a difference. But the fact that you have curtailed their work pass privileges that’s what has really made the difference”.