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Written Answer by Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister for Manpower, to Parliamentary Question on abuse of criteria for approval of EP applications

Notice Paper No. 310 Of 2016 For The Sitting On Or After 16 August 2016
Question No. 211 For Written Answer

MP: Mr Zaqy Mohamad

To ask the Minister for Manpower with regard to the case where an employee of Harry's International Pte Ltd was caught with falsely declaring information on hiring 20 employment pass (EP) holders (a) what are the criteria which the company met to get approval for 20 EP applications; and (b) what safeguards are in place to ensure that lack of quota for EP holders in the firm is not abused.

Answer

  1. Employment Pass (EP) applications are assessed based on a combination of factors including educational qualifications, work experience and salary. The 20 EP applications for Harry’s International Pte Ltd were approved as they met criteria. However, their employee was subsequently found to have falsely declared the salaries in the EP applications. She was convicted in court and fined $40,000.
  2. MOM safeguards the integrity of our work pass framework by conducting the necessary verification on doubtful EP applications. These include checks on qualifications by overseas screening agencies or with the issuing education institutions. Employers may also be asked to show proof that the submitted qualifications are genuine, and that they have the financial ability to pay the declared salaries. Audits may be conducted to ascertain if EP holders were indeed paid the salaries as declared. 
  3. EP applications found with doubtful qualifications will be rejected. EP applicants found to have submitted forged qualifications will also be barred from employment in Singapore. Applications with a declared salary suspected to have been inflated will also be rejected. 
  4. Strong action is taken against those who make false declarations in work pass applications. If convicted, the offender can be fined up to $20,000 and/or jailed for up to two years under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA). They will also be barred from hiring new or renewing work passes of their foreign workers. Members of the public who know of such offences should report the matter to MOM. Since 2014, a total of 58 employers have been convicted for making false declarations of salary in work pass applications. 
  5. While there is no EP quota, employers must consider Singaporeans fairly in hiring and career development. MOM subjects EP applications from companies which have signs of unfair employment practices to closer scrutiny. Processing of their EP applications will take longer. Where such companies do not take corrective action, MOM may on the recommendation of Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP), suspend their work pass privileges.