MOM Tightens Regulations against Illegal Foreign Employment

Earlier this week, Singapore’s Parliament officially gave the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) the go-ahead to crack down on illegal employment by passing new amendments to the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA).

Employers circumventing the EFMA’s regulations can now face swift financial penalties of up to S$20,000, and may even be stripped of their right to hire foreign workers.

In addition, those who set up shell companies in order to work around the mandated local-to-foreign worker ratio and other requirements can be fined up to S$6,000 and/or jailed for six months to two years.

Other employment related offenses that will now be punishable include forging educational qualifications to meet work pass requirements, collecting money from foreign workers in return for giving them a job, and having ‘local phantom workers’ on payroll.

The move is the latest in a series of measures this year by Singapore government that have been instituted in response to the growing call by local Singaporeans to slow the inflow of foreign workers. In mid-July, MOM announced that starting September 1 2012, individuals staying on a Singapore work pass would be required to earn at least S$4,000 (up S$1,200 from the previous minimum of S$2,800) in order to be eligible to sponsor their spouses and children for Dependant Passes.

GuideMeSingapore predicted these changes last month in a post that speculated on the changes MOM was planning to the EFMA in order to crack down on unscrupulous employers and agencies.

The increased attention on the issue of foreign workers highlights the fact that Singapore continues to attract record number of foreigners. In particular, for professionals looking to migrate out of slow economy countries, Singapore has emerged as one of the top destinations worldwide. The city has emerged as a preferred destination due to factors such as career opportunities, better quality of living, and in many cases significantly higher salaries.

Given the high demand for employment in Singapore and the increased regulation of immigration by the government, it is very important for any individual considering relocating to Singapore to have a proper knowledge of the various Singapore immigration schemes.

In addition to the various work pass options, entrepreneurs can also avail of methods such as EntrePass and the Global Investor Programme (GIP) to facilitate their entry and residence in Singapore.