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Should foreign workers be allowed to job hop?

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Job hopping is a notable trend in the local employment market, but labour bodies are debating whether foreign workers should be allowed to change employers as well.

A survey by Kelly Services last year found 70% of local employees job hop for career growth, but foreign workers’ Employment Passes are often tied to a single employer.

Last week, Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said in Parliament that the Ministry is looking at allowing workers to switch employers should there be “a genuine mismatch in expectations”.

The Straits Times reported this move would be supported by employment agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), but some are still concerned over the possible repercussions.

K. Jayaprema, president of the Association of Employment Agencies Singapore, said employers are worried the change may cause foreign workers to switch jobs and demand a higher salary each time.

“These concerns are valid. Employers commit time and money to train the workers and suddenly they want to leave. Project deadlines will be affected too,” she said.

Currently, only domestic helpers and construction workers are allowed to change employers if they have written approval from their current bosses.

The employment agencies are also hoping the Ministry will allow foreign workers who are currently unemployed – due to circumstances such as injury or the company folding – to be able to find new employers.

NGOs also said many foreign employees are working in fear because they are afraid voicing out their grievances will cause their bosses to send them home.

John Gee, an executive committee member of migrants’ organisation Transient Workers Count Too, said allowing job mobility will address this fear and also encourage more workers to step forward with their concerns.

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