In an unannounced change, a number of significant new questions have been added to the Employment Pass online application form by Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM), found Berry Appleman & Leiden (BAL).

On Friday, 10 November, BAL noticed the additional questions under Section F – Job Advertisement Information of the Employment Pass Online application.

The questions seek greater details about the company's hiring practices, efforts to hire local candidates for the job, and up to three reasons why the company decided not to hire a local candidate. They are as follows:

  1. Has your firm searched for candidates for this job using recruitment methods and channels (other than Jobs Bank)?
  2. Which recruitment methods and channels did your firm use? Choose from the following:
    • Job advertising websites
    • Newspapers
    • Trade publications/magazines
    • Employment agencies
    • Personal networks of existing employees
    • The company’s talent pool
    • Other
  3. Provide the number of Singapore citizens, permanent residents and foreigners who:
    • Applied for this job
    • Were interviewed for this job
    • Were offered this job
    • Were hired for this job
  4. Our firm has considered local candidates fairly and is applying for this Employment Pass because local candidates (choose up to three of the following):
    • Lacked technical skills/expertise
    • Lacked “soft” skills such as communication or leadership
    • Lacked relevant industry or target market experience
    • Lacked good qualifications
    • Had salary expectations that our company could not meet
    • Turned down our offer, did not show up for the interview
    • Insufficient candidates applied or showed up for the interview to fill the number of available vacancies
  5. How did your firm recruit this Employment Pass candidate? (choose one):
    • Local job websites
    • Foreign job websites
    • Newspapers
    • Trade publications/magazines
    • Local employment agencies
    • Foreign employment agencies
    • Personal networks of existing local employees
    • Personal networks of existing foreign employees
    • Your firm’s talent pool/portal
    • Other

BAL noted the new questions signal that MOM is serious about protecting the local workforce and moving toward stricter labor market testing in line with other countries' practices.

It added that companies applying for Employment Passes will need to revamp their hiring practices, track each candidate through each stage of the recruitment process and be prepared to document the numbers of candidates as well as the reasons for hiring foreigners over local workers.

It also warned that the new questions may delay Employment Pass applications that are currently being prepared but have not yet been filed, as companies will need to gather additional information about their recruitment process and try to account for each candidate that applied for the job.

Earlier this year, changes have also been made to the National Jobs Bank, which now closely tracks whether employers have reviewed and considered all applications that are submitted in response to a job advertisement.

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