Ministry of Manpower just announced new licensing conditions for employment agencies (EAs) from 1 October 2020 to ensure they consider Singaporeans fairly.
This news is the latest of a series of lobbying successes by NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay, who first raised up the issue of foreign PMEs in 2011. He suggested labour market testing and a Foreign PME Dependency Ratio then.
Over the years, he has repeatedly called for pro-Singaporean policies for a strong Singaporean core.
Several years later, MOM implemented the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) and TAFEP to ensure Singaporeans get fair consideration for jobs before companies hire foreigners. However discriminatory hiring and unfair workplace practices still continued.
In March 2020, Patrick Tay mooted four suggestions in Parliament during the Committee of Supply:
- extending the Fair Consideration Framework to ‘S’ Pass holders
- review the salary ceiling for Employment Pass applicants
- review and better scrutinise the FCF exemption on intra-company transfers
- push ahead in creating more flexible work-from-home opportunities for Singaporeans
What do the new licensing conditions mean?
The new licence conditions will require the nearly 3,900 EAs licensed by MOM to comply with the fair recruitment requirements set out in the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices (TGFEP) when recruiting on behalf of their clients.
In addition to helping their clients fulfil job advertising requirements, EAs must also:
- Brief their clients on the fair recruitment requirements in the TGFEP;
- Make reasonable efforts to attract Singaporeans for vacancies that they are trying to fill; and
- Consider all candidates based on merit.
The agencies must not abet discriminatory hiring by their clients, for example, by withholding applications on the basis of age, race, nationality, gender and disability. They must also turn down requests or instructions from clients to carry out discriminatory hiring.
Agencies that fail to comply with licence conditions may be issued with demerit points, have their licence suspended or revoked, or face prosecution.