What is the Fair Consideration Framework in Singapore?
The Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) is a Singapore law detailing fair hiring practices for all companies operating in that country. The intent of the FCF is to ensure that Singapore citizens have fair access to job opportunities, even those offered by foreign companies.
One of our clients needed to obtain and Employment Pass (EP) for one of their employees on assignment. The EP is the primary work permit used in Singapore for foreign nationals, and before submitting the EP application the position must be advertised on the Jobs Bank administered by Workforce Singapore.
This is an obvious challenge when assigning staff to a Singapore branch or company, and when helping our client secure an EP for their employee we had to be mindful of the FCF requirements implemented by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), and possible exemptions.
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Who is exempt from FCF?
The MOM website does set out certain exemptions from the Jobs Bank requirement, which can make the EP process quicker if a company qualifies:
“For practical reasons, you are exempted from the Jobs Bank advertising requirement in any of these cases:
- Your company has 25 or fewer employees.
- The job position is paying a fixed monthly salary of $12,000 and above.
- The job is to be filled by an intra-corporate transferee (ICTs). Under the World Trade Organisation’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (WTO GATS), ICTs refer to those holding senior positions in the organisation or have an advanced level of expertise.
- The job is necessary for short-term contingencies (i.e. period of employment in Singapore for not more than one month).
All companies are strongly encouraged to advertise their job vacancies on the Jobs Bank for access to a larger pool of Singaporean candidates, even if those jobs are eligible for advertising exemption.”
How Did Shield GEO Advise Our Client?
Although our client’s employee was paid a monthly salary above $12 000 and would therefore be eligible for an exemption, our partner in Singapore advised us that it is better to go through the process of advertising for the job based on advice they received directly from the Ministry of Manpower.
Specifically, the MOM still suggests that our partner posts the job ad for 14 days, even if it qualifies as exempt. If our client decided to risk it and ask for our partner to not post the job ad and the application is rejected, this will have three grave consequences:
- It will incur further costs and delays to our client to re-apply and postpone the assignment
- It will impact future applications submitted by our local partner
- Delay any future applications submitted under the client’s name
Our local partner in Singapore did not recommend taking the risk, and instead preferred to follow the MOM’s standard process. Otherwise, both the client and our local partner could end up on the FCF ‘watchlist’.
The MOM also confirmed that the position title and salary will not aid in making the application process faster, underscoring their commitment to offering all types of new positions to locals, even those that seem unlikely such as senior managers from multinationals.
FCF Watchlist for EP Applications
Here is how the MOM approaches their watchlist:
“We have identified 500 companies so far. They have pre-conceived ideas that local (citizens) are either unable or unwilling to do the job. So they write them off, without even considering them fairly. We therefore put them on our Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) Watchlist, and their Employment Pass (EP) applications are subjected to additional scrutiny.
This is to eradicate ‘nationality bias’…these companies on our watchlist come from various sectors, including employment agencies and placement companies.”
The Shield GEO Solution
This situation is an excellent example of how we work with our local partners and in-country experts to offer clients up to date advice, to avoid all types of compliance issues. Immigration is a crucial part of any assignment abroad, and many countries are increasing restrictions around work permits and visas, just as in Singapore with the EP rules.
As in this case, even if an exemption exists and your staff qualifies, you could still be singled out by authorities if it seems that your company does not take the labour or immigration policy seriously. We help our clients avoid this type of issue, and work with HR departments to guide them on the path of least risk, while deploying staff quickly in full compliance with immigration, employment and payroll laws.
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