At the Parliament sitting yesterday, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has released four written answers by Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say to Parliamentary Questions on various topics such as employment pass (EP) applications, Intra-company transferees (ICTs), re-employment and more.

These questions were asked by Member of Parliament (MP) Zaqy Mohamad, MP Leon Perera, and MP Dennis Tan Lip Fong respectively.

Here are his answers:

Question on abuse of criteria for approval of EP applications by MP Zaqy Mohamad With regard to the case where an employee of Harry's International was caught with falsely declaring information on hiring 20 EP holders, what are the criteria which the company met to get approval for 20 EP applications? What safeguards are in place to ensure that lack of quota for EP holders in the firm is not abused?

"EP applications are assessed based on a combination of factors including educational qualifications, work experience and salary," Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say wrote.

The integrity of the work pass framework is safeguarded by MOM through conducting the necessary verification on doubtful EP applications including checks on qualifications by overseas screening agencies or with the issuing education institutions.

Employers may be asked for proof of genuine qualifications and  the financial ability to pay the declared salaries. Audits may be conducted to ascertain if EP holders were indeed paid the salaries as declared.

Applications found with doubtful qualifications will be rejected and EP applicants found to have submitted forged qualifications will also be barred from employment in Singapore.

Applications with a declared salary suspected to have been inflated will also be rejected.

"Strong action is taken against those who make false declarations in work pass applications. If convicted, the offender can be fined up to $20,000 and/or jailed for up to two years under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA)," Lim warned.

Additionally, these employers will be barred from hiring new or renewing work passes of their foreign workers.

Members of the public are encouraged to report such offences to MOM.

Since 2014, a total of 58 employers have been convicted for making false declarations of salary in work pass applications.

The minister noted that while there is no EP quota, employers must consider Singaporeans fairly in hiring and career development.

Penalties for companies with signs of unfair employment practices may include longer processing time of EP applications, or suspended work pass privileges.

ALSO READ: MOM’s 3 steps to a Singaporean core – protection, progression, pride

Question on intra-company transferees (ICTs) from India by MP Leon Perera What is the number of intra-company transferees from India that have been approved under the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with India from the year when the agreement came into effect to the latest year for which data is available?

"ICTs from any country, including India, would need to meet the Ministry’s work pass qualifying criteria to work in Singapore," Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say wrote.

He added that the only difference is that ICTs from all countries are exempted from the advertisement requirement in our Jobs Bank.

"The Ministry does not disclose data on foreign manpower with breakdown by nationality, including data on ICTs."

READ MORE: Will the Jobs Bank really make a difference?

Questions on re-employment contracts upon reaching retirement age by MP Dennis Tan Lip Fong

  • Since 2011, how many resident workers have been offered re-employment contracts upon reaching retirement age?
  • Of these, how many have received a reduction in wages and other remuneration despite having no change in job scope or responsibilities?
  • What has been the average reduction in wages and other remuneration?
  • How does the Ministry ensure that employers do not unfairly reduce wages of workers reaching retirement age even though there is no change in their productivity and performance?
"Under the Retirement and Re-employment Act (RRA), employers are required to offer re-employment to eligible employees who turn 62 years old or the contractual retirement age if it is higher, up to the prevailing re-employment age," Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say wrote.

He noted that employers may re-employ employees on a new contract with re-negotiated terms, or allow them to continue on their existing contracts.

Adjustments to contract terms must be based on reasonable factors, such as productivity, performance, duties and responsibilities and the wage system applicable to the employee, including any seniority element.

Currently, the re-employment age is 65 years old and it will be raised to 67 years old by 1 July 2017.

Here are the re-employment stats:

  • Over 98% of resident employees who wished to continue working were offered employment beyond 62.
  • Last year, 98% of those who accepted re-employment in the same job, be it on a new or existing contract did not experience a cut in their basic wages.
  • Of the 2% who did experience wage cuts upon re-employment, the median wage cut was 10%.
"It is worth noting that among those on new contracts, almost one in ten actually received higher wages upon re-employment," Lim wrote.

He added that to raise awareness of employers’ obligations on the employment of older employees, the tripartite partners have issued a set of tripartite guidelines on the re-employment of older employees.

The gazetted guidelines are used by the MOM and the Courts in settling re-employment claims and appeals.

"Employees who feel that their wages have been unfairly adjusted upon re-employment should approach their unions or the Ministry of Manpower for early assistance," Lim advised.

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Bonus question! 

MP Leon Perera also asked the question all Singaporeans are curious to know about - where does the CPF money go once we pass away?

Perera asked: "From 2010 to 2015, what has been the median, mean, 10th percentile and 90th percentile total amount of money in individual CPF accounts when those individuals became deceased in each of those years?"

Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say responded: "Half of CPF members aged 65 or older who passed on in 2015 had about $6,800 or less left in their CPF accounts. Table 1 below shows the CPF balances of CPF members aged 65 or older who passed away between 2010 and 2015."

CPF balance of singapore citizen or PRs aged 65 or older who passed away from 2010 ot 2015

"Any unused CPF balances are bequeathed to the deceased member’s nominated beneficiaries. If there are no nominated beneficiaries, the unused CPF balances are distributed under intestacy laws."

READ MORE: S$516mn recovered in CPF arrears to benefit 360,000 employees in Singapore

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