28-year-old man's job offer was rescinded by Shopee on his first day in S'pore, spent S$14,000 on relocation

He has decided to focus on the future, rather than dwell on what happened.

Gawain Pek | September 04, 2022, 05:41 PM

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For the move to Singapore, Lingo (not his real name) spent around S$14,000 (RMB70,000).

Lingo was supposed to start his new job on Aug. 29, 2022, as an algorithm engineer at Shopee, he told Chinese media Lianhe Zaobao (Zaobao).

After touching down in Singapore on Aug. 25, Lingo's dream of a new life here was left uncertain when he got a call from Shopee informing him that the job offer was no more.

Accepted the fact and will focus on the future

When Mothership reached out to Lingo for an interview on Sep. 2, he shared that the only thing him and his wife could do now was to focus on the road ahead.

"We have decided that it is best for us to focus on what's ahead and devote our efforts to preparing for job interviews", Lingo told Mothership and added he has declined further media interviews after speaking to Zaobao.

After Shopee rescinded his job offer at the last minute, Lingo, along with his wife and dog, are now holding up in a hotel, scrambling to apply for jobs and attending interviews.

Lingo's wife, here on a Dependent Pass, is also actively looking for jobs to help mitigate the situation.

Offer accepted back in September 2021

The 28-year-old hails from Shanghai and has just finished a doctoral programme at one of China's national key universities.

According to Zaobao, Lingo first received the offer from Shopee in September 2021.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he was only scheduled to start at the company on Aug. 29, 2022 as an algorithm engineer.

Lingo shared with Zaobao that while he had received offers from other companies, he decided on Shopee in the end.

"It is my dream to put what I learnt in school to use in the Singapore and Southeast Asian markets", Lingo said.

His preparation for the move to Singapore started in May 2022 with his application for an Employment Pass.

"I heard rumours then that offers from Shopee were being rescinded, so I reached out to check with Shopee about my own offer a few times. I was told by Shopee that there was no problem with my offer", Lingo told Zaobao.

He even received a welcome email from Shopee that detailed instructions for his first day of work just one day prior to his departure on Aug. 25.

"I have learnt that until you start on your first day, nothing is guaranteed", Lingo said.

Finds the way Shopee handled this matter lacks empathy

While he understands that retrenchments and rescindments are common in the technology industry, especially in recent times, Lingo felt that the organisation lacked empathy in handling the cancel of offer.

Lingo said that he was informed via a phone call from Shopee when he arrived at Changi Airport.

He told Zaobao that the news was a shock to him and that anyone who learnt about his circumstance would express some sort of concern and sympathy, but the staff members who handled this matter failed to do so.

Upon request, he only received an "unfeeling" email from the company that was addressed to a group of people who faced the same situation.

Besides a formal email notice, Lingo also requested for a reasonable compensation and an in-person meet-up with Shopee representatives to understand the reason that their offers were rescinded.

Zaobao reported that it was not just Chinese nationals that were affected.

One Singaporean user posted to Chinese social media platform Xiaohongshu about a similar experience.

Lingo also told Zaobao that he knew of one Indian national who has had his job offer rescinded in a similar manner.

MOM and TAFEP aware of complaints

In a joint statement from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP), the authorities shared that "a contract of service takes effect when it is signed".

Consequently, termination of such contracts either by the employer or employee "must be done in accordance with the terms of the contract", including the provision of notice pay or any compensation, if stipulated.

Where the Employment Act does not apply, claims of compensation will have to be made as a civil claim, the statement added.

"An employment contract is a commitment from the employer and the potential employee to start a new employment relationship", the joint statement read.

If there is a need to terminate the contract prematurely, the parties affected should "work out an amicable way to resolve the matter in good faith."

TAFEP said it is aware of complaints about such practices by Shopee, and is in touch with the company to find out more.

"Individuals who require assistance can call the MOM hotline at 6438 5122", MOM and TAFEP said in the statement.

Mothership has reached out to TAFEP for updates on the matter.

According to Shopee, the job offers were rescinded due to "adjustments to hiring plans on some tech teams".

Shopee has offered those affected compensation packages that include one month's salary, as well as reimbursement for travel expenses, according to the South China Morning Post.

Reuters reported on Sep. 1 that Sea, the technology conglomerate that owns Shopee, pulled the plug on its game livestream platform and some projects at its development unit.

This comes after it reported a quarterly loss of almost S$1.4 billion (US$1 billion).

You can watch Lingo's interview with Zaobao here:

Mothership has reached out to Shopee for comments and will update accordingly if they reply.

Top image via Lianhe Zaobao