Hiring is one of the perennial challenges that companies both big and small face. In general, the Singapore government’s labour policy is for Singaporeans to have first dibs on the jobs available on the market, and then when not enough Singapore workers with the requisite skills are available or willing to take up the jobs, to allow companies access to a global talent pool through hiring foreign workers.
As such, there are very specific rules and regulations governing the hiring of foreign workers. Here’s an overview of the three broad types of passes that employers and hiring managers that could consider applying for.
Work Permits allows semi-skilled foreign workers from a pre-approved list of countries to work in certain labour-intensive sectors, namely construction, marine shipyard, manufacturing, or the service sector. Individual sectors have specific criteria for granting of work permits.
When granted, Work Permits are valid for up to 2 years, which is renewable. There is no minimum qualifying salary needed, though Work Permit holders are not able to apply for passes for their family members.
To apply for a Work Permit, an employer or appointed employment agent can apply for the permit from the Ministry of Manpower.
The S Pass allows mid-level skilled staff of all nationalities with relevant qualifications and work experience to work in Singapore. Prospective S Pass holders will need to have a degree or diploma, or specialised technical certificates, have multiple years of experience, and be offered a job that pays at least $2,200 a month.
There is a monthly levy of either $330 or $650 that employers need to pay, depending on how many foreign nationals are working at the company. Companies are also limited by a quota that caps the number of S Pass holders at 15% of the company’s total workforce in the services sector or 20% in all other sectors.
Once employers successfully apply for a S Pass, it is valid for up to 2 years and it renewable. S Pass holders are able to apply for passes for their family members.
Employment Passes are for foreign professionals of all nationalities who work in managerial, executive or specialised roles and earn a minimum fixed monthly salary of $3,600 and possess qualifications like a good university degree, professional qualifications or possess specialist skills. There are higher minimum salary requirements for more experienced applicants.
Once granted, Employment Passes are valid for 2 years, and can subsequently be renewed for 3 years at a time. There is no quotas or levies for Employment Pass employees, though employers must provide medical insurance for S Pass employees.
Employers can use the Self-Assessment Tool to check a candidate’s eligibility before applying. If the tool indicates that you will not qualify, you shouldn’t apply, since your application will be rejected.
Note that for Employment Pass positions, employers are required to advertise the job opening on the JobsBank for at least 14 days. For more details and requirements, you can refer to the Fair Consideration Framework.
Work Permit, S Pass Or Employment Pass: Which Should You Apply For?
Here is an overview of the various passes available to employers:
With 1.1 million foreign workers working in Singapore (excluding foreign domestic workers), they play an integral role in our economy and workforce. They are our colleagues, clients, vendors, bosses, or even employers.
Having an appreciation and understanding of employment criteria can help us have a more informed view when discussing labour policies, even if we’re not hiring managers.
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