The country’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is tightening some requirements for work passes, imposing higher levies on companies hiring foreign workers and lowering the maximum ratio of foreigners allowed in certain sectors.
“It’s very difficult now. There are many companies who want to hire Filipinos but the problem is (getting) the work passes (for them),” the Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Minda Calaguian-Cruz told Rappler in Filipino in an interview Wednesday, April 3.
“It’s not focused on the Filipinos. It’s foreign talents as a whole and we’re just one part of that,” she added.
Liz Peruda, a customer service representative with Apple, said she is grateful her work pass application was approved. Her husband wasn’t as lucky. After his application was denied multiple times, he had to return to the Philippines to look for work.
“We’re just really taking advantage of whatever time we have here in Singapore,” said Peruda.
“For Filipinos, even if we hold a good job, even if we hold a high-ranking job, even us, we’re scared. When it’s time to renew our passes… we’ll have that 10% chance that it might not get approved,” she said.
What will change?
In a release from the MOM, the Singaporean government is introducing the following changes, to limit the inflow of foreign workers:
- By July 2013, the minimum qualifying salary for the S Pass, a work pass for mid-skilled foreigners, will be raised from SGD $2,000 to $2,200
- By July 1, 2015, Employers will have to begin paying a higher monthly levy for S Pass Holders, with the following average increases:
- S Pass (all sectors) – $90 per S Pass holder
- Manufacturing – $50 per Work Permit holder
- Services – $90 per Work Permit holder
- Construction- $160 per Work Permit holder
- The Dependency Ratio Ceiling (DRC), the maximum permitted ratio of foreign workers to the total workforce of a company, will be lowered as follows:
- Services sector DRC – limited to 40% from 45% by July 1, 2013
- S Pass sub-DRC for Services – decreased to 15% from 20% by July 1, 2013
- Marine Sector DRC – lowered from 1 local: 5 foreign workers currently to 1 local: 4.5 foreign workers starting January 1, 2016 and 1 local: 3.5 foreign workers effective January 1, 2018
Restrictions on the renewal of applications will also become more severe.
The government has become more strict about employment requirements for foreigners in recent years. It also tightened up on the number of permanent residence (PR) visas it gives out. Government record shows that from a high of 79,000 PRs in 2008, the government now grants about 30,000 each year.