Singapore — Singapore has announced it is tightening rules on the hiring of foreign professional workers, saying companies will from August 2014 have to prove they first tried to recruit local citizens.
The announcement was made Monday following protests and online complaints about the large number of foreigners in Singapore, according to reports.
The government said businesses that discriminate against Singaporean citizens “will be subject to additional scrutiny” when they apply for employment passes for foreign professionals.
“Even as we remain open to foreign manpower to complement our local workforce, all firms must make an effort to consider Singaporeans fairly,” said Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan Jin in a statement.
“What we are doing is to put in place measures to nudge employers to give Singaporeans – especially our professionals, managers and executives – a fair chance at both job and development opportunities.”
Of Singapore’s total 2012 workforce of 3.36 million, an estimated 37% were non-resident.
The ministry said businesses must first advertise for Singaporeans to fill job vacancies in the government’s national jobs bank administered by the workforce development agency.
Foreigners can be hired if no Singaporean citizens are qualified.
Companies that have a “disproportionately low concentration” of local employees at the professional level, and firms where foreign managers are accused of favoring their own compatriots in hiring, will be put under tighter scrutiny, said the ministry.
It also said businesses with 25 or fewer staff, or those recruiting for jobs paying SG$12,000 (US$9,600) and above per month, will be exempted from the advertising rule.
The new measures are the government’s response to criticism from Singaporeans, who accuse foreigners of competing with them for jobs, housing, schools, and space on public transportation.
There have also been complaints that the rapid influx of foreigners is eroding the Singaporean national identity.
The dissatisfaction could be seen in the general elections of 2011 when the ruling party received its lowest vote count after more than 50 years in power.