Construction firms to pay lower levies for experienced foreign workers trained in safety

Singapore Construction firms to pay lower levies for experienced foreign workers trained in safety


First what is Foreign Worker Levy

If you employ Work Permit holders you may be limited by a quota for your industry. You will also have to pay a monthly levy for each worker. The foreign worker levy, commonly known as “levy”, is a pricing mechanism to regulate the number of foreign workers in Singapore.

The levy liability will start from the day the Temporary Work Permit or Work Permit is issued, whichever is earlier. It ends when the permit is cancelled or expires.

As an employer, you don’t have to pay Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions for foreign workers. However, you must pay a monthly levy for Work Permit holders.

The levy you pay depends on two factors:

  1. The worker’s qualifications (skilled or unskilled).
  2. Dependency ceiling or quota (for manufacturing and services sectors).

Singapore needs to be more productive. Most companies in the Oil Gas, Construction and Marine are highly dependant on foreign workers to do the work. Bosses in these industies claim that not many Singaporeans will do this type of work. Then maybe its time to automate this? Or to use AI or robots in certain cases. Or just better machines. 

Back to the lower levies that construction companies will pay. The Straits Times Singapore reported that from October 2016 construction companies will get to pay lower levies for experienced foreign workers that are trained in Safety. This in a bid to get employers to send lower skilled workers for courses. 

However if you have attended any course in Safety in Singapore, you will realise how overused Powerpoint slides are. Some courses have 400-500 powerpoint slides full of words for trainers who are ACTA certified to deliver to workers who hardly speak any English. Imagine the workers who come to Singapore, some of them were just farmers and fishermen the day before they fly into Singapore and now they sit in a class with 400 slides trying to understand what the trainer is talking about. Obviously there is a disconnect. 

Personnally, we feel that if you want to improve the safety standards- teach the workers how to do their jobs well. Do the workers have a job description? Has the job description been laid out? Do we train people to meet the functions of these job descriptions? We separate safety and job skilsl when we should be look to improving the job skills. A person can go for 120 hours of safety training and still go back to the worksite and do a different task. 

I gave the example of Starbucks and McDonalds- where staff are taught how to do their work. However someone mentioned that that environment is different from one that has high risk. Then lets take a look at offshore production operators, nuclear power plants or lets even look at the Army. Taking a 18 year old who has never used a rifle, never slept alone, never been in a war and teaching them skills to handle difficult situations. If we can look at training in that why, why do we look at training in the real world as just powerpoint slides and a tick in the box. 

When workers complete at least 120 hours of training in approved training courses or obtain a certificate under the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualification framework will they be safer? Will they work better? Can our Army training or NS be condensed to 120days?