23 Sep 2020

In the midst of a softer labour market, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has made further changes to the requirements for employers seeking to obtain a Work Pass for foreign employees in Singapore.

This follows the changes implemented earlier this year. With the unemployment rate for Singaporean citizens rising from 3.5% in March to 4.3% in July, the MOM is hopeful that businesses will look to the local job market to strengthen the Singaporean core of their workforce.

Here are some of the changes businesses need to be aware of:

Higher minimum qualifying salary for Employment Pass

  • New Employment Passes

From 1 September 2020, the minimum qualifying salary for new Employment Pass applications increased from S$3,900 to S$4,500. Qualifying salaries for older and more experienced candidates (who the MOM would expect to be more highly paid) will increase accordingly, to around double the minimum qualifying salary (which is more typically earned by younger candidates and new graduates).

  • Renewal of existing Employment Passes

For applicants renewing their existing Employment Pass, the new salary criteria will take effect from 1 May 2021.

  • Special criteria for financial services sector

The minimum qualifying salary will be further increased for jobs in the financial sector. From 1 September to 30 November 2020, the minimum qualifying salary for new applications is set at S$4,500. However, from 1 December 2020 this increases to S$5,000.

For applicants in the financial sector who are renewing their existing Employment Pass, the new salary criteria will take effect from 1 May 2021.

Higher qualifying salary for S Pass

  • New S Pass

For new S Pass applications, the minimum qualifying salary will be raised from S$2,400 to S$2,500 with effect from 1 October 2020. Qualifying salaries for older and more experienced candidates will also be revised accordingly.

There are, however, no changes to the quotas or levies that apply to the S Pass scheme.

  • Renewal of existing S Pass

For applicants renewing their existing S Pass, the new qualifying salary will take effect from 1 May 2021.

Job advertisement requirements

  • Extension to S Pass applications

The Fair Consideration Framework (FCF), which was implemented in 2014, requires employers to advertise roles and consider local candidates fairly before they are able to hire foreign employees. Until now, the FCF advertisement requirement only applied to Employment Pass applications. From 1 October 2020, this requirement will also apply to S Pass applications.

  • Job advertisement duration

The minimum period for advertising a job before a foreign employee can be hired is also increasing. From 1 October 2020, each job must be advertised for at least 28 days – which is twice the current minimum period of 14 days – before an employer can apply for a foreign employee’s Work Pass. This is to ensure that local employees have a fair chance to apply and be considered for these roles.

Please get in touch if you have any questions about the recent changes, or if you need any support with staying compliant.

Calvin Cheng is an Associate at Taylor Vinters Via in Singapore specialising in corporate and employment work. Katie Allen is a UK qualified lawyer currently based in Singapore to provide in-time-zone legal and HR support for multinational clients across the APAC region.