Four Reasons Why More Job Help for Singaporeans is on its Way

singaporean jobs
MOM made a dramatic move this week towards strengthening the "Singapore core" of white collar workers: The Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs). MOM announced a slate of measures that aim to ensure that Singaporeans are employed full time instead of being underemployed or worse, on perpetual contract work.
MOM's PME announcement delves into four areas:
1. The practice of hiring foreigners is going to come under greater perlustration
From October 1st 2015, employers will be required to publish the salary range of the job vacancies they advertize in the MOM Jobs Bank. Employers who do not publish the salary range will have their Employment Pass (EP) applications for the position automatically rejected.  This is a natural progression of the Fair Consideration Framework, which originally obliged employers to post job ads within the MOM jobs bank for Singaporeans first before they could open the job up to foreign applicants. 
Firms with a lower number of "Singaporean PMEs relative to others" within their industry will have their EP applications more tightly scrutinized. These employers will need to submit more information to MOM to prove that Singaporeans were fairly considered for the unfilled position. MOM did not state how a firm would fall under this category, but it did tell CNA that about 150 firms are currently on its watchlist, and this watch list is expected to grow. 
So what does this mean to you?
i. Companies can no longer use the “Singaporeans are too expensive” excuse to skip through Singaporean applicants because salary range is already declared upfront.
ii. This also forces companies to be consistent in their pay and benefits structure. 
iii. This also forces employers to take a long hard look at their businesses and restructure it to make economic sense to hire Singaporeans, since foreign PMEs will no longer be the cheaper option.
2. Older PMEs get wage support
A two year pilot scheme will be launched from October 1st. The scheme will enhance wage support for workers who are in the midst of switching to careers that were not covered by the Professional Conversion Programme. The new scheme called the Career Support Programme will give PMEs over the age of 40 and unemployed for at least six months and used to earn at least $4,000 in mid level jobs wage support through subsidies. These subsidies are tiered, with those aged 50 and above getting up to 40% of their monthly gross salary with the subsidies capping at a maximum of $2,800 per month.
However, PMEs must register with the Workforce Development Agency's Career Centres and e2i to qualify for these subsidies. PMEs will also have to get structured on the job training or external training to bring their skills up to date. This is intended to help make the unemployed more desirable to potential employers.
So what does this mean to you?
i. The scheme's salary range of $4,000 to $7,000 fits into the EP criteria giving an edge to down-on-their-luck Singaporeans against foreign talent.
ii. Employers again cannot use the Singaporeans are too expensive excuse here because under this scheme, every qualified hire they make will only cost the company's bankroll  60% for six months and then 80% for the following six months.
iii. This also gives small companies the chance to afford talents who were previously accustomed to the MNC pay scale.
3. Filtered work pass controls
MOM will now reject all work pass applicants that "contain doubtful qualifications such as those from degree mills." This is an enhancement to the manpower ministry's practice of putting applicants with forged qualifications on a life time ban. The ministry will also examine an applicant's experience more closely. This is all part of the ministry's intention to "progressively encourage and facilitate the transfer of expertise from foreign professionals to Singaporean PMEs over time. 
So what does this mean to you?
i. MOM will be looking over HR's shoulder. This will force HR to really do their homework when they screen applicants. 
ii. Companies should start thinking of deliberately transferring skills from their foreign PMEs to their local PMEs to even the playing field for Singaporean workers.
4. Expanded options for Dispute Resolutions
The first quarter of 2016 will see the Employment Claims Tribunal become available to PMEs who were previously earning more than $4,500 a month and not covered by the Employment Act.  This category of employees will have a more accessible way to resolve any contractual disputes instead of having to endure the long drawn out civil courts process. The Tripartite Mediation Framework, which already helps settle workplace disputes between employees and employers, will be opened up as an option to PMEs who earn more than $4,500 and who are union members in non unionized companies as well as the rank and file union members in non unionized companies.
So what does this mean to you?
i. You now have a means to renegotiate a heavily unfavorable contract. Free legal aid might be available to you through NTUC if you are a union member.
ii. This forces employers to exercise more caution when drafting their employment contracts to ensure that they do not impose terms that could violate the government's employment laws.
iii. It is going to be much easier and cheaper to make your deadbeat boss pay you back the  salary he owes you!

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