Posts filed under ‘Staffing’
I must be getting old. I want to go on a rant about kids these days. Specifically 15 year olds.
If you ask any F&B person they’ll tell you that the manpower situation in Singapore is dire. Citizens and PRs simply aren’t applying for the jobs.
I’ve been short-staffed on service crew for what seems like forever, so I decided to offer a high hourly wage for starting service crew members to see if more people would apply. (7 SGD versus what seems to be an industry norm of 5.50 – 6.00 SGD).
Received 4 applicants who are Singapore citizens. I suppose the timing of school holidays played a part – these were all 15 year olds applying. Of course this is 4 more citizen applicants than my series of ads that ran on all the major job portals, so I was feeling happy.
I hired all 4. 3 of them lasted 1 day or less. 1 is still working at the restaurant (thank goodness).
Kid #1 and #2: They were friends so applied together. 45 minutes late to the interview and extremely rude on the phone when they called me to find out how to get to the restaurant. I figured I would give them a chance though.
First day of work – when asked to do anything, kid #1 would respond with “Why?” and ask why the other staff member (who was doing something else) couldn’t do it. Horribly bad attitude, no initiative, and simply rude. So I fired her.
Kid #2, second day of work. 1 hour into the shift says, "I think I’m sick, I’m going to leave.” Let’s just say I was highly skeptical that she was actually sick. So I fired her.
Kid #3: She applied via e-mail and on Wednesday afternoon we confirmed she would start on Friday morning. Friday morning came, and she didn’t show up. I wrote her and asked what happened and have not received a response.
The quest for staff continues.
In the never-ending quest for staff, Standing Sushi Bar is looking for sushi chefs and service staff (waiter / waitress).
Ideally we will find full-time candidates, but if you know anyone interested in part-time, we are hiring for our lunch shifts (generally 10:30 AM – 2:30 PM). Part-time pay is 7 SGD an hour for the service crew.
Full-time pay is dependent on experience.
Hiring Singapore citizens or permanent residents only
I should just change the title to be “Hiring: all positions!”
Standing Sushi Bar is looking for more staff! As many of you know the F&B labor market is very tight, so as an incentive to refer / recommend people, we are offering a 100 SGD referral amount to anyone that introduces us to a new staff member (who works with us for at least 3 months).
We’re looking primarily for full-time positions but am open to receiving people interested in part-time positions as well.
Must be a Singapore citizen or permanent resident. I would love to open the positions to everyone but since I’m at my quota level I can not hire any foreigners. (I know this is not going to stop foreigners from applying, but hey, at least I’m open about it).
Service Crew: We are looking for people of every experience level including a manager. Please note that it is a requirement to speak English.
Kitchen Staff: Inexperienced to mid-level experience.
Sushi Chef: Senior-level to junior level (to be trained up – but have at least 2 years experience)
Please send CVs to email@example.com
Well, talk about pressure. I received a very unpleasant letter from the Ministry of Manpower recently.
As you may know, there is a quota for how many Singapore citizens or permanent residents you need to employ before you can hire a foreign worker. For ease of understanding, let’s just say you need 1 Singapore citizen / PR for 1 foreign worker.
I’ve had the same number of Singapore citizen / PR workers as I’ve had foreign workers so I have been able to meet my quota.
In the past 3 months we have had staff insubordination issues which led to the dismissal of two Singapore citizen / PR workers. I became 2 foreign workers over the quota.
This left us short-staffed, so I immediately put job ads out (JobsDB, Gumtree.sg, Straits Times Classifieds (expensive!!)). In these ads I state that we are only hiring Singapore citizens and permanent residents.
Few applied; essentially the ones that did I immediately hired. Then they flaked out (see previous entry about what to expect when staffing a restaurant). Of course daily I receive numerous applications from foreigners whom I can’t hire because I have no quota.
Being short-staffed sucks – the workers who are there end up working long hours and getting stressed out, preparing the food is slower, servicing the tables is slower, and generally the customer experience is affected.
Then I get this letter, which really felt as if I was getting kicked while already on the ground. The letter alerted me that I was 2 foreigners over my quota and that if I didn’t fix this within two weeks then the Ministry of Manpower would cut two of my foreign staff and ban me from hiring foreigners for 6 months.
Are. You. Serious.
Thankfully during this period I hired 3 more Singapore citizens / PRs (hopefully they stay for awhile! I found them not through the job ads but friends of existing staff) so these measures won’t take effect, but had I not, I (and the business) would basically be screwed.
A small business that is short-staffed and desperately trying to hire… is now told that they will lose *more* of their staff and won’t be able to hire the folks that apply (foreigners) for 6 months?!? Then what happens… the existing staff burn out and quit or you go broke from paying a ton of overtime or you think about opening less days of the week and incur the wrath of the landlord since it states in the lease how long you’re supposed to be open.
- Do not *ever* have the government come in and fire staff. Let the existing staff remain until their work permit is up for renewal. If the quota is not met then, the government can decline renewing the permit.
- Fine the company a reasonable amount. I understand the pressure for having a quota (a little pointless in the service sector, to be honest), but axing staff due to quota issues is only going to kill a small business. Paying a fine is also crippling but at least the business can remain operational.
For the umpteenth time a new (or not even officially joined) staff member has left us in a lurch.
For anyone new to F&B and hiring staff, get ready for the following situations… unfortunately these are the norm rather than the exception:
- Person accepts the job offer and sets a start date. At some point they decide they don’t want the job anymore. They won’t tell you until you call them on their scheduled first day of work and they say, “Oh, I decided I didn’t want the job and that I would stay at my old place.” Thanks, I could have hired someone else in that month I waited for you to join.
- Schedule interview. Don’t show up for the interview.
- First day of work. Call in the morning and say they’re taking unscheduled leave and they’ll start the next day. Do the same thing the following day.
- Work 1 day and then quit (and by quit I mean just not showing up or answering their phone again since they don’t want to say they’re quitting).
- Express dismay at adhering to strict work times. Guess what, if you’re part of the kitchen team and you stroll in at 2 PM when you were supposed to be there at 10:30 AM it means all our customers have finished lunch already!
- Quit because of above mentioned working hours.
Ah, when I think about these things it makes me antsy so I shall end this blog entry.
I’m always looking this up so I figured I would stick it here. For those of you who don’t know, in order to hire a foreign worker (from the “approved” list of countries for the service industry), you have to employ enough Singapore citizens / permanent residents to meet the ratio of 1 citizen to 1 foreign worker. (Current as of August 2011)
Here is a very basic example – if you have 50 local employees you can hire 50 foreign employees, making a total workforce of 100 employees.
Total workforce = 100 staff (including locals and foreigners)
That 100 staff is comprised of:
Local staff = 50
Foreign staff = 50
Now, to make it a little more confusing, within the foreigner work force there are different allocations for the type of permit (Work Permit or S Pass) and also what country they are from.
If you have 100 total employees, 10 (out of the 50 foreign workers) can be on work permits from China (10% of total workforce).
If you have 100 total employees, 25 (out of the 50 foreign workers) can be on S Pass (25% of total workforce).
If you have 100 total employees, 50 (out of the 50 foreign workers) can be on work permits from Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, or Taiwan.
(Side comment – the Filipinos working in restaurants are on S Pass; they are not eligible for Work Permit)
Below information is from the Ministry of Manpower
Computation of quota
- A company/firm’s Central Provident Fund (CPF) account is used by the Controller of Work Passes to determine its local workforce and foreign worker (FW) entitlement. The company/firm should ensure that CPF contributions under this account are made only to persons actively employed by the company/firm.
- The FW entitlement (quota) is based on the size of the total workforce in the company/business. ‘Total workforce’ refers to the sum of the local workforce, S Pass holders and Work Permit holders that are subjected to the sectoral Dependency Ratio. ‘Local workforce’ refers to those full-time employees (Singapore citizens or permanent residents) who have worked for a full month, and are receiving prompt monthly salary/CPF contributions which are similar to the industry norm. Two part-time employees are considered as one local full-time employee. (Current as of August 2011: a full-time employee in the service sector is one that is making 850 SGD a month or more. I can not find information on what pay constitutes a part-time employee, if anyone has this information please let me know!)
For example, a company that employs two full-time local employees and two part-time employees will have a total local workforce of three persons. Employees who receive CPF contributions from multiple employers will not be considered in the calculation of the workforce.
- A company/business’ quota balance is calculated based on the size of its local workforce for the past three months (in the same CPF account). The past three months refer to the latest CPF contribution records, excluding the current and last month.
For example, the quota for August 2011 is computed using the months of April, May and June 2011.
Hi all, Standing Sushi Bar is looking for sushi chefs and bar staff.
Sushi Chef: Minimum 1 year of experience, adaptable, and looking to learn from experienced chefs. Need to be able to work well under pressure and in a fast-paced environment. Must speak English.
Bar staff: Articulate, sociable, and trustworthy. Willing to work late (midnight+). No previous experience necessary. Must be fluent in English.
Salaries are dependent on experience
If interested please send your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note these positions are open only to Singapore citizens and permanent residents. We don’t have quota for work permit / s pass at the moment.
Great article by Rebecca Lynne Tan regarding the shortage of manpower hitting the service industry.
From the Straits Times
Jul 10, 2011
Wait… where’s the service staff?
The staff crunch at eateries is so bad that restaurateurs have had to cut back their operating hours
By Rebecca Lynne Tan
Do not be surprised the next time you go into your favourite restaurant and see its owner clearing tables.
Restaurateurs here are facing such severe service staff crunches that some are having to double as runners, delivering food to tables and helping to clear them.
Some have also had to limit operating hours or close off seating sections to cope with the manpower shortage.
When LifeStyle visited newly opened bistro-restaurant The Dempsey Brasserie in Dempsey Hill two weeks ago, the owners were seen pouring drinks behind the bar counter and clearing tables.
Opening hours have been cut too – it is open only for dinner on weeknights, but all day on weekends.
Says the restaurant’s co-owner Terence Tan, 40: ‘I can’t even begin to open for breakfast or lunch on weekdays – we just don’t have the capacity to, in spite of having advertised for staff.’
Over at two-week-old eatery Wild Oats at Punggol Park, its chef-owner Willin Low, 39, had to enlist the help of five friends last weekend to clear tables and serve food. The group, which included bankers and marketing managers, worked an average of five hours each night over Saturday, Sunday and Monday night.
Chef Low says: ‘We probably need about 15 service staff to run our Punggol Park outlet smoothly, but that weekend, we had only eight wait staff.’
He adds that he had to close a third of the 300-seater restaurant because of his staff shortage.
F&B players blame it on the tight labour market.
Mr Andrew Tjioe, executive chairman of the Tung Lok Group which employs about 800 staff, says: ‘We are experiencing full employment (in the market) now, which makes it difficult to find staff. It was tough in the last couple of years with the opening of the integrated resorts, but it is just as bad now.’
Chef Low says: ‘Everyone in the industry is fighting over the same number of staff.’
The service sector foreign worker quota, where foreign workers can make up only 50 per cent of the company’s total work force, does not help, nor does the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) recent increase of the foreign worker levy and qualifying salaries for the S Pass and Employment Pass, say restaurateurs.
Foreign worker levies now start from $180 for skilled workers and $280 for unskilled workers, up by $10 each.
Qualifying salary threshold for S Pass applicants increased 11.1 per cent, while the qualifying salary thresholds for the Employment Pass (EP) were raised between 12 and 14.2 per cent across the three EP categories.
Mr Keith Loh, 37, who owns restaurants such as Bedrock Bar and Grill and Oriole Cafe and Bar at the Pan Pacific Serviced Suites in Somerset Road, says: ‘The increase squeezes our operating margins and we find it hard to transfer the costs to the customer.’
Adds Tung Lok’s Mr Tjioe, who says he will still hire foreign workers because he has not much choice: ‘It increases my costs, but it doesn’t change the way I hire.’
But MOM offers some relief for pass renewal. Its spokesman says: ‘Employment Pass and S Pass holders affected by changes to the qualifying salary criteria in July 2011 will be granted a renewal of up to two years if they renew their passes with their current employers.’
That might be good news for operators. But getting the passes renewed is not always easy, they say.
Mr Loh tells of one of his baristas, a Nepalese whom he had trained from scratch, who had his S Pass renewal rejected after working with the company for two years. The barista, who had won a local latte art competition, had to be let go.
Restaurants lament how well-trained staff, who have been with the company for anywhere between two and six years, have also had work pass renewals rejected, which then leaves them having to retrain new staff from scratch.
Restaurateurs say that when they renew work passes, it is because they deem the worker to be good, otherwise there is little incentive for re-hiring them.
MOM says it reviews the eligibility criteria for work passes from time to time. Changes were made in recent years to motivate employers to reduce their reliance on low-cost, low-skilled foreign workers, invest in productivity and improve the quality of their foreign manpower.
Companies can log on to its online Employment/S Pass Self-Assessment Tool (sat.mom.gov.sg) to check if their potential employees meet the requirements.
Finding Singaporeans for the job comes with its own set of challenges.
Says The Dempsey Brasserie’s Mr Tan: ‘There is a distinct lack of passion among Singaporeans in becoming service professionals. The root cause is people’s perception of service professionals. But being a server does not equate to being a servant.’
Operators point out that low pay could also be one reason it is tough to employ Singaporeans. Operators say staff no-shows, especially among Singaporeans, are common – they almost expect their employees not to show up for work. Some might work for a week and disappear without a trace.
The MOM suggests that F&B employers looking to recruit approach the relevant Continuing Education and Training (CET) Centres for job placement services, as well as career centres at Community Development Councils (CDCs) and the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i), which provide job-matching services for unemployed Singapore residents.
F&B players hope more Singaporeans will consider going into the profession, and learn the ropes and rise through the ranks from the bottom up, just like in any other trade.
Mr Loh says: ‘It takes just as much skill and professionalism to be in this industry as any other.’
Still, in spite of the staff shortage, new restaurants continue to sprout like mushrooms.
And with high rental overheads and operating costs, a new restaurant cannot afford to wait for an optimal number of staff before it opens.
Mr Tjioe adds that the Tung Lok Group, like many other restaurants, opens its new restaurants even when it is under-staffed.
He says: ‘If we have to close a section, we will do that so that we can cope with the service.’
Read an article about how the changes to the foreign worker levy are meant to encourage the hiring of local workers.
So where’s the part about convincing local workers to actually apply?