Singapore tightens hiring norms, more trouble for Indian techies - Publik Talk


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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Singapore tightens hiring norms, more trouble for Indian techies

After the United States, Singapore, another most loved destination for Indian IT professionals is steadily tightening norms for foreign professionals.

As Singapore is a perfect location for fund-raising and saving taxes owing to holding company structure, and have turned into a popular country for start-ups such as Flipkart. However, this popularity might fade away as new norms require more paperwork, higher costs and an extended processing period.

The Ministry of Manpower (MoM) in Singapore, accountable for handling the sponsoring company's recruitment process, has tightened the norms of work visa endorsement. Submission of hiring statistics of employees along with each work visa form for skilled employees is also included in these norms. In addition, the details should incorporate the number of Singapore citizens in the concerned company, permanent residents, and foreigners in four distinct phases including details related to applications received, interviews conducted, offers made and the final hiring details.

Indian companies are worried as every bit of this paperwork is indicated towards hiring local Singapore talent. In fact, advertising in designated job database to access local Singapore talent - a measure introduced a couple of years ago under the Fair Consideration Framework – also has been strengthened. As indicated by immigration and industry experts, most of several of these measures are against Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

In Singapore, skilled overseas professionals can work under an Employment Pass or EP, which is identical to a work visa. To acquire an EP, professionals ought to have suitable qualifications to be paid no less than 3,600 Singapore dollars (Rs 1.6 lakh approx.). However, throughout the years, the least salary limit has been increased, putting more burden on Indian companies sending their employees to work in Singapore as most Indian workers are sponsored by their employer under EP norms. S-pass, another course which can be utilized by mid-level skilled staff, for which the salary limit will be, increased from January 1, 2019, to S$2,300 per month or around Rs one lakh from the existing S$2,200. Furthermore, the 14-day job posting requirement for EP applicants would be extended to cover companies with at least 10 employees or designations earning less than S$15,000 every month. As indicated by experts, the pre-EP application steps would make it much more complicated for smaller companies, particularly promising start-ups with a small presence in Singapore.

Singapore is abusing the FTA principle by "forcing" Indian companies to take the "labour-market test," said, Gagan Sabharwal, Senior Director, Global Trade Development at NASSCOM.

Under the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, Singapore is committed to facilitating free movement of skilled professionals in the Information Communications Technology (ICT) domain for short durations. "However, there is no separate visa category available for this purpose and Indian ICT companies have to apply for EPs. Consequentially measures such as mandatory advertisement apply even to movement of skilled ICT employees,” he explained.

Moreover, in each of the EP or work visa application, the sponsoring company or employer required to give details regarding their search for local candidates, strategies and tools.

“MOM continues to ask employers for commitments on measures taken to further improve the local to expat ratio. They have denied applications if they perceived a lack of commitment,” told Sabharwal. According to industry experts, amid June 2017, around two lakh foreign working professionals held an EP, out of which 10,000 were IT professionals from India.


Published at: Thu, 15 Mar 2018 20:21:58 +0530


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