The move to require Dependent Pass (DP) holders to apply for a work pass is “a step in the right direction”, said Singapore People’s Party (SPP) member Khan Osman Sulaiman.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday (16 Mar), Mr Osman asserted that DP holders “should not be allowed to work” in the first place, adding that their “participation in the workforce displaces many Singaporeans who are in need of employment”.
His post was referring to an article published by TODAY earlier on Sunday (14 Mar), which highlighted the growing anxiety among foreign spouses due to the recent rule change by the Manpower Ministry (MOM) for DP holders.
From 1 May, DP holders who are family members of foreigners working in Singapore on work pass will need to obtain formal work passes on their own if they wish to also work in the city-state.
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.
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said during the Committee of Supply debate on 3 March that the change was made “for consistency with recent work pass moves”.
Foreign DP holder with S$1.5K salary says no company will pay more to hire Singaporeans for her job
One of the dependents interviewed by TODAY was an Indian national, Ms Patel, who noted 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 S$1,500 a month, which would not qualify her for the S-Pass. The minimum salary for S-Pass holders is S$2,500, and it has a different quota.
Ms Patel told TODAY that 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 expressed that she is disappointed that her hard work has come to nothing because of the rule change.
When asked about Singaporeans taking over her job, she was dubious that her employer could easily find one with her current S$1,500 monthly wage. “No company will pay more to hire a local for this,” she said wistfully, adding that when her LOC expires, chances are that both the position and her employment will disappear.
Three other DP holders interviewed by TODAY also expressed their disappointment with the new rule. They noted that their families might have to move out of Singapore eventually because the new rule would force them to become housewives to their working husbands, even though they are capable of working.
Availability of cheap labour has impacted negatively on Singapore’s effort to increase productivity, says Mr Osman
Citing Ms Patel’s plight in his post, Ms Osman asserted that the “availability of cheap labour has impacted negatively on Singapore’s effort to increase productivity”, adding that companies have “no incentive to innovate”.
“The abundance of cheap labour, has also contributed to the problems of unemployment and stagnating wages of many low-wage workers,” he continued.
Mr Osman went on to laud the MOM’s move in requiring DP holders to apply for a work pass, saying that it is “a step in the right direction”.
He concluded his post saying, “If DP holders have to move out of Singapore eventually, so be it. We would rather have these job positions made available to Singaporeans.”