How foreign spouses of Singaporeans can benefit from employment support

How foreign spouses of Singaporeans can benefit from employment support

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Ensuring that foreign spouses of locals are not subject to foreign worker quotas, levies or qualifying salaries is one of the biggest ways the Government is helping them integrate.

Foreign spouses of Singaporeans have a support ecosystem in place to help ease their transition into the nation's workforce, as well as support their families via the working route.

As such, employers can apply for a Letter of Consent (LOC) for foreign spouses of Singapore Citizens on a Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP) or LTVP+ to work in Singapore. In addition, since December 2018, foreign spouses of Singapore Citizens on an LTVP/LTVP+ are granted Pre-Approved LOCs (PLOC). With the PLOC, their employers are only required to notify MOM before the start and end of their employment.

As of June 2021, about 13,500 foreign spouses of Singapore Citizens on an LTVP/LTVP+ (or slightly over half) are working on an LOC or PLOC.

These details were provided by Minister for Manpower Dr Tan See Leng who was responding to MP Desmond Choo's Parliamentary question (PQ) on the topic. 

In addition, foreign spouses on an LOC or PLOC are not subject to foreign worker quotas, levies, or qualifying salaries. Thus, overall the LOC and PLOC facilities enable foreign spouses of Singapore Citizens on an LTVP/LTVP+ to seek employment. 

Dr Tan added those who need employment assistance can approach Workforce Singapore’s Careers Connect, NTUC-e2i’s career centres or any of the 24 SGUnited Jobs and Skills Centres to receive basic career advisory and job search assistance.

Further, for foreign spouses of Singaporeans who are from lower-income households, the Manpower Minister urged them to approach the Social Service Offices (SSOs), who will look into ways to support the family, and depending on their needs, may refer them to other Government agencies and community partners.

Another PQ where the topic of quotas came up was by MP Yeo Wan Ling, who asked about the foreign worker quota considerations for companies that share CPF contributions with other companies.

This, Dr Tan replied: "We recognise that some locals may work in more than one job across different companies. To avoid disincentivising employers from hiring these workers, we allow a local worker to count towards the foreign worker quota for up to two firms.

"These workers will count as one local employee if they are paid at least LQS by the firm, or half a local employee if paid at least half of the LQS," he explained. 

As such, the number of firms a Singaporean can work in simultaneously at two, as "there is a natural limit to the number of full-time jobs a local can work in a month". In fact, it is not common for locals to work in three or more jobs, the data shows.

"The number of locals working in three or more jobs, has remained very low from 2016-20201, at around 0.2% of our resident employees."

The Manpower Minister further clarified that employers are not allowed to split the salary of its employee across its different business entities, in order to get foreign worker quota for each business entity. "This is an abuse of the rules and employers will be investigated for breach of the work pass regulations."

For context, a company's foreign worker quota determines the number of Work Permit (WP) and S Pass holders it can hire. The quota is computed based on the number of locals, i.e. Singapore citizens and permanent residents, that it hires.

To ensure that employers do not hire locals on token salaries just to increase their foreign worker quota, locals have to be paid at least the Local Qualifying Salary (LQS) of S$1,400 per month to count toward the firm’s foreign worker quota. In cases where firms hire part-time workers, local employees who earn at least half of the LQS (S$700-1,400) will be considered as half a local employee for the foreign worker quota. 

Lead image / 123RF

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