The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) refined the Employment Pass (EP) criteria and declared his commitment to stamping out abuse of the pass system on Tuesday.
Following a case in which an employee of Harry's International was caught falsely declaring information on hiring 20 EP workers, Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say answered questions on safeguarding in response to questions from several MPs.
The MOM safeguards the work pass framework by conducting verification checks on dubious EP applications, Lim said.
"These include checks on qualifications by overseas screening agencies or with the issuing education institutions," he said.
"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."
Later on in the process, audits may be conducted to confirm whether an employee was paid the correct salary as declared in the application, Lim added.
EP applications with 'doubtful' qualifications, or that are suspected of including an inflated salary, will be rejected, and applicants who are found to have submitted false qualifications will be banned from working in Singapore.
"Strong action is taken against those who make false declarations in work pass applications," Lim said.
Convicted offenders can be fined up to SG$20,000 and/or jailed for up to two years, and they will also be barred from hiring new or renewing work passes of their foreign workers.
In terms of meeting EP criteria, Lim explained that applications are assessed based on a combination of factors including educational qualifications, work experience and salary.
In the case of Harry's International, the information provided was later found to be false and the employee was convicted in court and fined SG$40,000.
Lim also noted that employers should treat Singaporean applicants fairly, alongside foreign workers.
"While there is no EP quota, employers must consider Singaporeans fairly in hiring and career development," he said.
"MOM subjects EP applications from companies which have signs of unfair employment practices to closer scrutiny."
Since 2014, a total of 58 employers have been convicted for making false declarations of salary in work pass applications.
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