NSP calls for fair consideration jobs framework to be extended beyond EP holders

The National Solidarity Party has welcomed the move to get employers to give Singaporeans fair consideration in jobs, but is calling for the Government to extend the rules to work pass schemes beyond the Employment Pass (EP). -- ST FILE PHOTO: M
The National Solidarity Party has welcomed the move to get employers to give Singaporeans fair consideration in jobs, but is calling for the Government to extend the rules to work pass schemes beyond the Employment Pass (EP). -- ST FILE PHOTO: MALCOLM MCLEOD

The National Solidarity Party has welcomed the move to get employers to give Singaporeans fair consideration in jobs, but is calling for the Government to extend the rules to work pass schemes beyond the Employment Pass (EP).

In a statement on Thursday, the NSP noted that the rules - which require companies to advertise on a government-run jobs bank for at least 14 days before they apply to the Ministry of Manpower for an EP - apply only to this top tier of work passes for foreign professionals.

This means that there is still "little incentive" for employers to hire Singaporeans over foreigners who hold S-Passes and work permits in lower-level jobs, said the NSP.

The Government measures may not be entirely effective, the party added, despite the twin levers of foreign worker levies and dependency ratio ceilings acting as disincentives preventing the over-hiring of S-Pass and work permit holders.

For instance, an employer looking to fill a job paying $2,200 - the qualifying salary for S-Pass applicants - will have to pay about $350 in employer's Central Provident Fund contribution if he hires a Singaporean.

But if he hires a foreigner while remaining within the quota, he will need to pay only $300 in foreign worker levy, the NSP pointed out.

Even though the Government has periodically raised the levies, the NSP said employers may still not feel the urge to hire Singaporeans, as they would also rather do without extra costs associated with benefits for locals, such as four months' paid maternity leave.

The NSP also pointed to the rising number of S-Pass holders to emphasise the need to extend the rules, which were announced on Monday and kick in from August next year.

There were 154,100 S-Pass holders in June, up by around 35 per cent from 113,900 in end-2011.

"NSP reiterates that the single largest factor that prevented the wages of the citizen workforce from rising is the large supply of foreign workers who are willing to accept lower pay," it said.

This makes it convenient for employers to have foreign workers who may not demand better wages or take up other jobs, it added.

This then undermines the natural economic forces in the local job-market by "artificially filling low-paid, low-skill positions and removing the impetus for higher wage demands".