So what happens when you exceed your quota?

September 1, 2011 at 9:59 am Leave a comment

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,, 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.

Suggested alternatives:

– 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.


Entry filed under: Staffing.

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