working hours, salary, tan see leng, minstry of manpower, singapore, parliamentary question

Similarly, reducing the working hours and, thus, wages of local employees to counter the higher total wage cost is not the "intended outcome" of such an exercise, Dr Tan See Leng has clarified.

In response to a recent parliamentary question around the increased qualifying salary requirements for work pass holders in Singapore, Minister for Manpower Dr. Tan See Leng has addressed the essence and objective behind the decision, and clarified what the expectations around this policies are from employers. 

According to the minister, companies should neither increase the working hours for foreign employees in order to meet the new minimum salary requirements for work passes, not reduce the working hours and, thus, wages of local employees to counter the higher total wage cost.

"Such behaviour is absolutely not the intended outcome of MOM’s updates to the qualifying salary."

He clarified that the updates to the qualifying salary are to ensure that EP and S Pass holders are not hired solely because they are "cheaper than locals", but because they bring in skills, networks and expertise that complement Singapore's local workforce. "The result is to strengthen the complementarity of our foreign workforce."

He further shared that MOM has not come across any such cases of companies resorting to these practices, per the question posed by Member of Parliament Hazel Poa, whereby EP or S Pass holders were forced to put in more hours with a corresponding reduction in work hours for local workers when updates to qualifying salary were made. Looking at Singapore's historical data, local wages have continued to grow, including in years when EP and S Pass qualifying salaries were raised.

Dr Tan stated: "Fundamentally, it does not make good business sense to unfairly reduce locals’ working hours and salary. Employees who are unfairly treated will leave the company. Besides losing talent, the company may also find that it does not have enough quota to retain its S Pass holders at the next renewal.

"The vast majority of our employers understand that when it comes to setting wages, what matters are the job scope, responsibilities and performance of the worker, rather than the hours worked. This is particularly so for the professionals, managers, executives and technicians, or PMET, job roles that we are talking about here."

Ending off, Dr. Tan reminds that if an employer engages in such unfair practices, employees may take their grievances to the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP). 

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