Parliament: 500 companies placed on MOM's watchlist for unfairly favouring foreigners

Since February 2016, 1,900 EP applications have been either rejected or withheld by the Ministry of Manpower, or withdrawn by the companies. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A total of 500 companies have been put on the Fair Consideration Framework watchlist over the past two years for unfairly favouring foreigners in their hiring, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said on Monday (March 5).

Such "triple weak" companies - who are not up to scratch in having and nurturing a strong Singaporean core, and do not have strong relevance to Singapore's economy and society - have their Employment Pass (EP) applications subject to closer scrutiny.

Since February 2016, 1,900 EP applications have been either rejected or withheld by the ministry, or withdrawn by the companies, said Mr Lim during the debate on his ministry's budget.

The companies on the watchlist come from various sectors and include placement agencies, he said.

"They have the pre-conceived idea that local PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians) are either unable or unwilling to do the job, so they write them off without even considering them fairly," he said.

Mr Lim was responding to MPs such as Mr Patrick Tay (West Coast GRC), Ms Jessica Tan (East Coast GRC) and Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten) who asked for an update on the watchlist.

He said more than 2,200 Singaporean PMETs were hired after organisations like the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) and the institutes of higher learning worked with the companies to help them improve their human resource practices and to recruit fresh graduates and mid-career local PMETs.

So far, 150 companies have improved and left the watchlist.

For example, an information technology services firm with more than a thousand PMET employees was placed on the watchlist in February 2016. But after working with Tafep and the Infocomm Media Development Authority, it hired about 200 more Singaporeans and has since been removed from the list.

The company continues to adopt progressive human resource practices, which is a win-win outcome for both the business and its workers, said Mr Lim.

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