TODAYOnline published an article on Sunday (14 Mar) highlighting that anxiety is growing among foreign spouses due to the recent rule change by the Manpower Ministry (MOM) for dependent’s pass (DP) holders.
From 1 May, DP holders who are family members of foreigners working here on work pass, will need to obtain formal work passes on their own if they want to work in Singapore. Previously, as dependents, they would just need a letter of consent (LOC) to work in Singapore, which is not restricted by other MOM rules like quota limits.
MOM said that the rule change is to harmonise the employment rules for DP holders with the overall work pass framework.
“No company will pay more to hire a local for this”
One of the dependents interviewed by TODAYOnline was an Indian national, Ms Patel. She told the media that she would probably lose her job due to the rule change.
“I have to renew my DP in May, but my company won’t be able to continue hiring me because they don’t have the quota (for me),” she said.
Ms Patel was referring to the dependency ratio ceiling — the maximum ratio of foreign workers to the total workforce that a company can employ, depending on the sector it is in. Companies that already hit the quota will not be able to apply for new permits or work passes unless they hire more locals.
The company apparently only pays her $1,500 a month, which would not qualify her for the S-Pass. The minimum salary for S-Pass holders is $2,500 and has a different quota.
Ms Patel said she is an “essential service worker” who especially toiled through the circuit breaker period last year so that food supplies are not disrupted for Singapore. She said she is disappointed that her hard work has come to nothing because of the rule change.
When asked about Singaporean taking over her job, Ms Patel is dubious that her employer could easily find one with her current $1,500 monthly wage. “No company will pay more to hire a local for this,” she said wistfully. When her LOC expires, chances are that both the position and her employment will disappear, she added.
Three other DP holders interviewed by TODAYOnline also said that they were disappointed by the new rule. They said their families might have to move out of Singapore eventually because the rules would force them to become housewives to their working husbands, even though they are capable of working.
“Time for Singaporeans getting their jobs back!”
On Tuesday (9 Mar), Victor Mills, chief executive of the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce, criticised the rule change, saying, “The new rules impact women disproportionately because they are the majority of working expat partners and spouses. Some work in foreign national business chambers, others in private education teaching foreign languages. Others are entrepreneurs. Much of the work they do does not take a job away from a Singaporean.”
This also means a lot of unhappy foreign expatriate families, and relocating them here will be harder if they know their partner or spouse will not be able to work, he said.
“The image of Singapore as welcoming talent takes another hit which we can’t afford. Our society will be the poorer for it and yet, will there be a significant increase in jobs for Singaporeans? Probably not,” said Mills.
However, Singaporean PMET Ng K H disagreed.
He told TOC, “By not allowing the spouses to work, they might not want to stay in Singapore anymore. Also, with the family depending on only one income earner now, they may no longer afford to stay here.”
“That means even the work pass holders may give up Singapore too, thereby freeing up middle management positions which hopefully would go to Singaporeans,” Mr Ng explained.
“Time for this nonsense to stop and Singaporeans getting their jobs back!”