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To improve the quality of Singapore’s foreign manpower, the minimum salary for S Pass holders will be raised to $2,400 from $2,200 per month in a two-step process, said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say in Parliament on Monday (5 March).
The changes will be implemented in phases over the next two years, with a minimum qualifying salary of $2,300 for new S Pass applicants taking effect from 1 January 2019 followed by a minimum qualifying salary of $2,400 from 1 January 2020.
Speaking during Committee of Supply debate for his ministry, Lim said the revision aims to make the Singapore’s “one-third foreign (manpower) better”.
Out of Singapore’s 3.4 million-strong workforce, 2.3 million employees are local – including citizens and permanent residents – while 1.1 million are foreigners. The last update to the S Pass criteria was implemented in 2013.
S Pass applicants with more years of experience will also be required to command higher salaries commensurate with their experience.
Some leeway will be given to existing S Pass holders who renew their passes before 30 June next year. Those whose passes expire before 1 January next year will be allowed to keep to the existing minimum qualifying salary of $2,200.
Those whose passes expire between 1 January and 30 January next year will be permitted to renew their passes based on the current minimum qualifying salary as well, for a maximum period of one year.
Meanwhile, those whose passes expire from 1 July 2019 and onwards will have to meet the new S Pass minimum qualifying salary requirement.
Separately, the maximum period of employment for work permit holders from China and non-traditional sources – such as Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand – will be extended by four years in response to feedback from industries, said Lim. The longer period of employment will take effect from 1 May this year.
The change means that higher skilled workers from the construction, process and marine shipyard industries will have a maximum employment period of 26 years rather than the current 22 years. Those in the services and manufacturing industries will have a maximum employment period of 22 years compared with the previous 18 years.
Work permit holders with basic skills from the five industries will have a maximum employment period of 14 years, up from the current 10 years.