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Old 19-07-2011, 10:21 AM
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Straits Times: Foreigners offer to 'pay' for employment passes
They will 'return' part of salary for pass allowing dependants in
By Melissa Kok & Amanda Tan

EMPLOY us and we will 'pay' you.

That offer was made to Mr Henn Tan, owner of a local technology firm, when he interviewed two men - a Myanmarese and a Filipino in their 20s. They had applied to work as a webmaster and a software engineer respectively.

The jobs, which pay at least $3,500 a month, would have earned them Employment Passes (EPs) here.

When told they were not qualified for the positions, they offered Mr Tan, 54, a deal: they would 'return' half their salaries to him each month, as long as he hired them on EPs.

Some foreigners are allegedly offering to return part of their salaries to prospective bosses if they are hired on the coveted EP, which now requires applicants to earn more in order to qualify.

EP holders - often graduates working in professional, managerial or specialist jobs - are allowed to bring their spouses and children to Singapore on Dependant's Passes.

Recounting the incident, which took place in April, Mr Tan, chief executive of Trek 2000 International, said: 'They told me if I allowed them to be hired on EP, they would 'kick back' the balance to me.' He rejected the offer.

But not all have stood firm. In the first three months of this year, five employers of EP and S Pass holders - usually mid-skilled workers - were taken to task for making false declarations in their work pass applications, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

False declarations could include inflated salaries and forged qualifications.

One employer was fined $5,000, while the rest were jailed between one and six months. Several others are currently being investigated.

In the first nine months of last year, 141 foreigners were convicted for lying in their work pass applications, up from 137 in the whole of 2009. MOM did not provide updated figures.

Seven out of 10 recruitment firms interviewed by The Straits Times said they had heard of such under-the-table deals.

In some cases, employers had artificially 'inflated' salaries so they could hire more foreigners. There is no cap on the number of EP holders a firm can hire - unlike lower-tier S Pass or work permit holders, who are subject to quotas...
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