Locals first: No, just be “fair”

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Singapore street scene

With new rules in place mandating priority to citizens for job openings, how such framework is implemented in other countries is worth looking at

BEFORE introducing the new rules – Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) – which requires employers to consider Singaporeans “fairly” before hiring overseas workers, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) officials visited US, Canada, UK, Sweden and Germany. Acting minister for manpower Tan Chuan-Jin shared this in Parliament in August while adding, “We held candid discussions with government officials, businesses and labour unions to better understand the challenges of designing and implementing a fair consideration framework.”

So how does this framework works in these countries?

A comparison between what Singapore introduced and what is in place in US and Canada.

Fair Consideration Framework (FCF)resizedSGflag

  • Will come into effect on August 1, 2014
  • Firms must advertise their vacancies on a new job bank (website) administered by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) for at least 14 days before submitting the Employment Pass (EP) applications to MOM
  • Firms with 25 or fewer employees, and those jobs which pay a fixed monthly salary of $12,000 will be exempted from FCF

Notably, MOM emphasises that the framework is not about “Hire Singaporeans First, or Hire Singaporeans Only”. Rather it is to help Singaporeans get a “fair” opportunity at “good jobs and fulfil their career aspirations”.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), US

In a nutshell, hiring foreign workers for employment in the US requires approval from various government agencies. Firstly, employers apply for a labour certification from the Department of Labour (DoL), after which they approach the US Citizenship and Immigration Services for a visa. But importantly, when employers approach the DoL for the certification, they have to prove to it’s Employment and Training Administration wing that there are not sufficient, able, willing and qualified US workers available to do the work in question. To ensure this, the INA sets forth certain prerequisites for employers to agree to before the labour certification is granted. These include:

  • Advertise physically or electronically the intent to hire foreign workers at least 30 days prior to approaching the DoLFlag_of_the_United_States.svg
  • Take good faith steps to recruit US workers for the job for which the foreign worker is sought, at wages at least equal to those offered to the foreign worker
  • Additionally, the employer must agree that no similarly employed US worker will be displaced within 90 days before or after, applying for the foreign worker’s work permit
  • Pay the foreign worker at least the local prevailing wages or the employer’s actual wage, whichever is higher
  • Provide working conditions to the foreign workers that will not adversely affect the working conditions of workers similarly employed
  • Not employ foreign workers at a location where a strike or lockout is occurring

Another country that MOM officials went to was Canada, which also announced changes to its Temporary Foreign Worker Programme (TFWP) early this year, to ensure that Canadians are given the first chance at available jobs.

TFWP, Canada

  • Employers must advertise available positions in Canada for at least four weeks before applying to get a foreign worker
  • In addition to advertising on the national job bank website, employers must prove that they have used at least two other recruitment methods that are consistent with the advertising practices for the occupationFlag_of_Canada.svg
  • This means that employers must show that the advertising source is targeting a realistic audience for the vacant position
  • If hiring for a higher-skilled occupation—one of the methods must be national in scope; and if hiring for a lower-skilled occupation—employers must demonstrate that they made efforts to target under-represented groups in the labour force
  • A processing fee of $275 per foreign worker’s application is charged

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