MOM's rule change 'won't affect hiring'

Employers say that although there is demand for good foreign talent, they will not raise the salaries of foreigners just so they can bring their families here.
Employers say that although there is demand for good foreign talent, they will not raise the salaries of foreigners just so they can bring their families here.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Higher wage bars for foreigners bringing family here unlikely to alter practices: Firms

The move to raise the minimum monthly salary bars for foreigners seeking to bring their families to Singapore will not affect how employers hire or pay foreigners.

Employers say that although there is demand for good foreign talent, they will not raise the salaries of foreigners just so they can bring their families here.

"Employers generally do not top up or raise salaries just to match a higher salary criteria," said interior furnishings firm Goodrich Global's chief executive, Mr Chan Chong Beng. "They will look at the candidate and the market rate before determining the pay."

Singapore International Chamber of Commerce chief executive Victor Mills agreed that the move is unlikely to cause a major upheaval for companies.

 

As it is, many foreign executives no longer base their families in Singapore, mainly because of the high cost of living.

The Manpower Ministry (MOM) announced on its website last week that foreigners here have to meet higher minimum salary bars before they can apply for visas for spouses, children and parents.

From Sept 1, they will have to earn at least $5,000 a month if they want to apply for Dependant's Passes (DPs) for their spouses and children to join them in Singapore. This is up from the current $4,000.

Those who want to bring their parents to Singapore on Long Term Visit Passes (LTVPs) are subject to a minimum salary bar of $10,000 a month, up from $8,000.

There are about 179,000 people on Employment Passes (EPs) and 170,000 on S Passes.

The MOM declined to say how many of them are currently sponsoring their families here on DPs and LTVPs.

 

The last time such data was disclosed was in 2012. Then Manpower Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in a reply to a Parliamentary question that the Government issued an average of 35,000 DPs and LTVPs each year to foreigners on EP between 2005 and 2010.

Human resource experts said that foreigners earning between $4,000 and $5,000 a month who do not meet the higher minimum salary to bring their families here are mostly middle managers.

"They have lower bargaining power than senior executives whom companies, especially multinationals, will go all out to attract to Singapore," said human resource consultant Martin Gabriel from HRMatters21.

"Now that they cannot bring their families here, they may bargain in other areas, like longer annual leave so that they can go back to see their families," he added.

The higher requirements are not likely to pose a problem for employers, recruiters said.

Even if some foreign job applicants are discouraged from coming to Singapore, the demand for workers is still less than the supply of candidates, said AYP Associates managing director Annie Yap.

Mr James Kow, head of business at PeopleSearch, said: "If companies genuinely can't get any Singaporeans and they need to find foreign talent to fill the gap, this is not going to make a difference."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2015, with the headline 'MOM's rule change 'won't affect hiring''. Print Edition | Subscribe