In the fourth of our policy briefs for 2018, Transient Workers Count Too recommends that foreign workers should be free to change employer without needing to get the permission of the existing employer. There should also be a clearer time frame for workers to get new jobs should their existing employers terminate their Work Permits or allow these permits to expire. Specifically, TWC2 recommends allowing such workers 30 days to look for new jobs, with an extension of another 30 days available on request.

Employees’ current lack of job mobility, states the report,

increase[s] workers’ vulnerability to illegal or unsafe working conditions, dangerously long hours, and kickbacks.

These vulnerabilities are compounded by recruitment fee debt.

When job mobility is openly stated as a right with a clear time frame — as opposed to the current situation where it is merely a discretionary privilege granted by MOM with only two weeks to look for a new job — the knowledge that there is this assured alternative to an abusive job situation empowers them to resist unreasonable employer demands. Moreover,

Repatriation at employers’ discretion also undercuts government aims to retain an experienced, skilled migrant workforce.

Workers who have been injured often find their Work Permits terminated while they are on medical leave. They have no job to return to when the medical leave ends, yet cannot leave Singapore until their compensation claim is concluded. In the meantime, they are barred from taking new employment, and thus become a burden on the State and have to rely on charity. In this policy brief, TWC2 argues that once a worker is off medical leave and is fit to work, he should be free to look for a new job.

Allowing workers to change employer will not by itself produce the desired result of retaining skills and experience if they have a poor rate of success in securing new jobs. For this reason, TWC2’s policy brief argues that there should be restrictions on the issuing of new Work Permit approvals for prospective workers from outside Singapore, to ensure that those already here have a reasonable chance of success.

The two-page policy brief (in pdf) can be downloaded by clicking the icon at right.