So what happens when you exceed your quota?

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.


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

Night Festival 2011

Voyage Night Festival 2011 is taking place this weekend in the Bras Basah area. It’s a collection of exhibits, performances, and installations being held on the museum grounds as well as the SMU campus.  I believe admission to the museums (SAM at 8Q, Singapore Art Museum, National Museum, Peranakan Museum) are free during this period.

Standing Sushi Bar at 8QSAM will also be open until midnight on August 26 and 27 as well as September 2 and 3.  Come get a little culture!

August 26, 2011 at 7:16 am 4 comments

Hiring staff? Get ready for this…

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.

August 19, 2011 at 5:11 pm 2 comments

Join our mailing list!

You know how there is something that you know you should do but you just never get around to doing it?  For me, creating a mailing list is one of those things.

With a location in Raffles Place, there’s high foot traffic and a strong likelihood of people dropping their name card into a fishbowl for me to add to the list.

With a mailing list I can contact interested diners directly and not rely on the whims of the Facebook notification system to provide updates.

But for whatever reason, I never got around to creating a mailing list.

Until now!

So please do sign up to receive updates about special offers, promotions, events and other related information.  If you have suggestions on what else you’d like to see, let me know!

Subscribe to The Sushi Times now!

August 8, 2011 at 6:30 am 1 comment

Calculation of Foreign Worker Quotas

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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.

  3. 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.

August 5, 2011 at 3:51 am 2 comments


Ah, restaurant ownership… the picture in people’s heads is of a proprietor, mingling with guests, flitting from table to table and asking them how the food was while dazzling them with a charming anecdote or two about funny customers.

The reality is crouching on the floor at 1:30 in the morning stuffing A4-size paper into sticky plastic pouches to shove through the laminating machine.  Is it just me or is inserting paper into these pouches one of the most frustrating things to do? You stick it in and the corner of the paper juts out which means you have to peel the pouch cover back and try placing the paper again.

Well, at least I have 30 copies of the set menu for Standing Sushi Bar Marina Bay Link Mall laminated now.

August 4, 2011 at 1:50 am 3 comments

Lend me a hand

Found this video online of a machine with a sensitive hand.  Perhaps hand-made and machine-made will soon be the same thing.

August 2, 2011 at 6:42 am Leave a comment

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Standing Sushi Bar

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