SINGAPORE: On top of meeting a minimum qualifying salary, foreigners wanting to work in Singapore under an Employment Pass (EPs) will also have to meet a minimum score under a points system from September next year.
The new framework comes as the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is set to adjust the minimum qualifying salary for EPs up from S$4,500 to S$5,000 from this September. For the financial sector, the salary benchmark is set higher at S$5,500.
While S$5,000 or S$5,500 is the minimum salary for entry-level jobs, it goes up to S$10,500 for middle-aged candidates, or S$11,500 if they are in the financial sector.
The higher wage benchmark will apply to new EP applications from Sep 1 this year, and to renewal applications a year later.
EP applicants generally fill professionals, managers, engineers and technicians (PMET) jobs.
The intent is for EP qualifying salary to match the top one-third, or 65th percentile, of local PMET wages by age, said Manpower Minister Tan See Leng, as he announced the upcoming changes in Parliament during MOM’s Committee of Supply debate on Friday (Mar 4).
“We know that the labour market for skilled workers is sufficiently tight. So this latest move is not intended as a tightening measure,” he said.
“Instead, it is part of MOM’s regular updates to ensure that our qualifying salary keeps pace with local wage growth, so that foreigners are not coming in just because they are cheaper than local PMETs.”
He added that most EP holders will not be affected by these changes as they earn “well above the qualifying salary”.
From next year, applicants will also have to score sufficient points under a new COMPASS (Complementarity Assessment Framework) points system to work here.
It will come into effect for new EP applications from September 2023, and for renewal applications from September 2024.
HOW COMPASS WORKS
Points under COMPASS will be awarded based on four attributes and two bonus criteria.
The EP application can score up to 20 points for each attribute – the applicant’s salary, his or her qualifications, the nationality diversity of the hiring firm and the firm’s support for local employment.
An individual and/or firm that meet the expectations for each attribute or criteria will score 10 points and if it exceeds expectations, it scores 20 points.