The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said that it has identified 240 firms for further investigation into practices of possibly favouring foreign job applicants over Singaporeans.
It has also taken action against 47 employers whose workforce profiles indicate that they may have discriminatory hiring practices, by placing them on the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) Watchlist, MOM said on Aug. 5.
240 firms to be investigated
A total of 240 firms have been identified via data analytics for possible pre-selection of foreigners, or for not adhering to the spirit of the FCF job advertising requirement.
Further investigation into these firms will be carried out, MOM said.
Action taken against 47 employers
A total of 47 employers have also been placed on the FCF Watchlist, as their workplace profiles "raise concerns, when compared to industry peers", and indicated possible discriminatory hiring practices.
For example, MOM said that "a number" of these 47 employers were placed on the Watchlist as they had "exceptionally high shares of foreign PMETs compared to their industry peers".
At 18 of the firms, foreigners comprised more than half the PMET workforce, which MOM said was "significantly higher compared to their industry peers".
MOM also said that 30 of the firms also had a high concentration of PMETs from single nationalities, highlighting the examples of a wealth management firm where "almost three-quarters" of their PMETs were of the same nationality, and a bank where foreigners of the same nationality made up "almost two-thirds" of the PMETs.
These 30 firms were from the Financial Services and Professional Services sectors.
MOM said that the largest of the 47 firms employed close to 2,000 PMETs, though the others comprised a mix of large and smaller firms.
Among the list were banks and fund managers, as well as management consulting firms, and firms providing project management and engineering services.
Implications of being put on FCF Watchlist
Employers that are put on the FCF Watchlist are subject to greater scrutiny by MOM.
Their EP applications are closely watched.
The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) will also engage the employers to put in place fair hiring practices.
Employers on the FCF Watchlist that are "recalcitrant or uncooperative in improving their hiring practices" will have their work pass privileges cut back.
MOM said that more than 4,800 Singaporean PMETs have been hired by employers on the FCF Watchlist since 2016, when it was introduced by MOM.
Over the same time period, more than 1,200 employers have been scrutinised by MOM and 3,200 EP applications have been rejected, withheld, or withdrawn.
Employers found to be unfamiliar with skillsets of local jobseekers
MOM said that 190 employers from the Financial Services and Professional Services sectors have been placed on the FCF Watchlist since 2016.
These employers were often found to be unfamiliar with the skillsets of local jobseekers, as well as the government measures to help local workers attain the required skills, MOM said.
MOM highlighted that some of the 190 firms had "claimed that they were unable to find local workers with the required expertise or experience, including for more technical roles such as Senior Software Engineers and UX Designers".
However, MOM said that these firms "had not cast their net wide enough, such as by tapping on Professional Conversion Programmes".
Others had assumed that local workers lacked global exposure and would not be able to function effectively across multiple countries, for roles requiring market-specific knowledge, such as a Professional Services employer which acted for international clients.
However, MOM said that the employer widened its pool of suitable candidates after considering locals who had experience in the relevant markets.
"Most employers reviewed their hiring practices to give local jobseekers a fair chance" after TAFEP's intervention, MOM said, adding that employers were "able to hire local employees to meet their manpower needs".
MOM will be "extra vigilant" in "these challenging times"
MOM said that it would be "extra vigilant" in "these challenging times", to prevent unfair hiring and to ensure fair treatment for local jobseekers.
MOM "does not tolerate unfair hiring practices", it said, highlighting that employers that breached fair hiring requirements will be barred from hiring or renewing foreign workers for up to two years.
Employers may also face prosecution if they made false declarations on fair consideration, MOM said.
Members of the public can submit confidential reports instances of discriminatory behaviour at TAFEP's website.
Top image via @scrgrhm on unsplash