Fair Consideration Framework – One year On

With the introduction of the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) from 1 August 2014, changes to Singapore’s immigrations laws have made a profound effect across all business types. On 21 April 2015, speakers from the Ministry of Manpower (‘MOM’) in conjunction with Magrath Global held a special briefing to provide a brief overview of the Fair Consideration Framework (‘FCF’) and take questions from the audience during a lively Q&A session.

By Mark Chowdhry

 

Christopher Koh, Director, Manpower Planning and Policy Division and Silas Sng, Director, Work Pass Division discussed a number of issues facing sole proprietors, SME’s and large multinational organisations, with the talk and questions moderated by Mark Chowdhry, Managing Associate, Magrath Global.

 

As a flavour of the discussion, topics included:

  • Confirmation that Employment Pass renewals must meet the prevailing criteria at the time of the application; and that employers of foreign manpower should not expect automatic approval for such applications;
     
  • The MOM is seeing more cases where applicants have adverse records and such cases will be treated objectively – unfortunately the MOM still are unable to reveal reasons for the rejection of certain candidates and this is unlikely to change in the near future;
     
  • The MOM views foreigners who graduated from local institutes of higher learning (for example: NUS, NTU, SMU, Singapore Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic, etc.) more favourably than graduates from private schools or from overseas;
     
  • The MOM has recently implemented the Pre-Assessment Tool (PAT) within the EPOL (Employment Pass Online) to give employers and applicants more certainty whether an application will be approved or not. It should noted that where an application was refused due to the candidates’ credentials were not consummate with the individuals’ salary, the MOM use SG$500 increments whilst making their decision to overturn the rejection;
     
  • It is acceptable for employers to refer applicants to their own website for job vacancies when they post an advertisement on the Singapore Workforce Development Agency’s JobsBank;
     
  • The MOM may grant the partner of same-sex couples a pass to remain in Singapore but the MOM will require official documentation proving their civil relationship is recognised in their home country; and such decisions will be reviewed on a case by case basis;
     
  • The MOM is reviewing the EntrePass framework as they are aware that some foreign business owners are EP holders – it is likely that applicants for an Entrepass may see slight changes in the conditions imposed post-grant of the pass; and
     
  • The MOM is looking at, and may extend the Letter of Consent to Long-Term Visit Pass holders in the future.

 

It was noted during the talk that the new Minister for Manpower, Mr Lim Swee Say, who will relinquish his appointment as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office on 4 May 2015 and will then take up his new role, is likely to start dialogue sessions with businesses in the coming months.

 

Finally, under Mr Lim Swee Say’s headship, the MOM will be seeking to use the data gained from the implementation of the FCF to consider whether further changes to protect the local workforce and identify what and in which sectors, foreign talent is needed. We expect further changes to be implemented in the coming months and years as Singapore (along with most of the world) deals with the politically sensitive issue of immigration.

 

For further information, or for any clarity on the above, please contact Magrath Global who specialise in the provision of immigration assistance in the Asia Pacific region and beyond.

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