SINGAPORE —The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Thursday (27 August) shared details on tightened work pass requirements in Singapore, including increasing monthly salary thresholds for foreign professionals and mid-level skilled workers to qualify for work here.
From 1 September, the monthly salary threshold for new Employment Pass (EP) applicants will be raised – the second of its kind this year – from at least $3,900 to $4,500. The last adjustment saw it increase from $3,600 to $3,900 from 1 May.
This comes a day after the ministry announced that further adjustments would be made to Singapore’s foreign workforce policies – such as the EP and S Pass – to reflect the weaker labour market caused by COVID-19.
The MOM said that such revisions in recent years have considerably slowed the growth of EP holders even as the economy expanded, from an average of 13,000 annually in the first half of the last decade to less than 3,000 annually in the second half.
It also said that it will for the first time set higher qualifying salaries for a specific sector, with the monthly salary threshold for EP applicants in the financial services sector raised to at least $5,000 from 1 December.
“Salaries in the financial services sector have been consistently higher than in other sectors. The sector also continues to hire and has been attracting strong interest from local jobseekers with good qualifications,” said the MOM.
The qualifying salaries for older and more experienced EP candidates in their 40s – across all sectors – will be raised correspondingly and will remain around double the minimum qualifying salary for the youngest applicants.
From 1 October, the monthly salary threshold for new S Pass applicants will also be raised – also the second of its kind this year – from at least $2,400 to $2,500. It was raised from $2,200 to $2,300 from 1 January last year and to $2,400 from 1 January.
Qualifying salaries for older and more experienced S Pass candidates will likewise be revised accordingly, said the MOM.
“Through regular updates to the S Pass framework in recent years, the growth of S Pass holders has slowed, from an average of 17,500 annually in the first half of the last decade to less than 6,000 annually in the second half,” it added.
The new salary criteria will come into effect from 1 May next year for both EP and S Pass renewal applicants.
Changes to requirements for job ads
Separately, the MOM will extend the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) job advertising requirement to S Pass applications from 1 October.
The extension will promote greater awareness of vacancies in mid-skilled jobs among local jobseekers, and also require employers to make greater efforts to consider local candidates, the ministry said.
The minimum FCF job advertising duration for EP and S Pass applications will also be doubled to 28 days from 1 October.
This will give local jobseekers more time to respond to job openings and for employers to seriously evaluate their applications, said the MOM.
Besides meeting the FCF requirements, employers whose PMET (professional, manager, executive and technician) workforce profiles suggest a bias against locals will be put on a watchlist with their EP and S Pass applications “subject to greater scrutiny”, said the MOM.
This year alone, 90 employers have had their work pass privileges suspended because of infringements to the framework.
Since 2016, more than 1,200 employers have been scrutinised under the FCF, with 3,200 EP applications have been rejected or withheld by the MOM, or withdrawn by employers.
Over the same time period, employers on the FCF watchlist have hired more than 4,800 Singaporean PMETs, said the MOM.
“We will engage an expanded group of employers to review their hiring practices, before they are placed on the watchlist. This expanded group will include firms whose Singaporean core has been weakening or whose EP and S Pass workforce are overly concentrated from a single source,” the ministry added.
The updated EP and S Pass criteria would complement the extension of the Jobs Support Scheme and the introduction of the Jobs Growth Incentive to help businesses retain or expand local employment as well as local job seekers secure meaningful work. said the MOM.
“We continue to welcome businesses to grow, expand their presence in Singapore, and create good jobs for our people,” it added.
“Employers that need to augment their local PMET workforce with additional EP or S Pass applicants should strive continuously to build up and retain a strong Singaporean core.”
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