Given the weakness in the job market and uncertain growth outlook, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will update the Employment Pass (EP) and S Pass criteria to suit prevailing conditions, the Ministry of Manpower has announced key changes to foreign work pass policies. The Ministry is making these changes to support employment opportunities for locals as the Covid-19 crisis weighs on the job market. From Sept 1, firms applying for new Employment Passes (EPs) for foreign professionals will need to pay them at least $4,500, up from $3,900 now. The new criteria will take effect from May 1 next year for renewals of EPs.

The Ministry also announced that the qualifying salaries for older and more experienced candidates in their 40s would also be raised, so that these remain around double the minimum salary for the youngest applicants. In a first of its kind move, new EP holders in the financial services sector will need to be paid at least $5,000 from Dec 1. This is the first time the ministry has announced a sector-specific higher qualifying salary.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has also supported the move by the Ministry of Manpower. MAS worked closely with MOM to determine the new MQS for the financial services sector, which is higher than that for the rest of the economy.  This takes into account the higher local salary levels in the financial services sector. Ms Jacqueline Loh, Deputy Managing Director (Markets & Development), MAS, said, “The move towards the higher salary criteria for EP candidates complements MAS’ manpower development programmes to expand job opportunities and deepen local capabilities.  A high quality workforce, with a strong Singaporean core complemented by EP holders with specialised skills, will best enable our financial services sector to compete internationally, and seize new growth opportunities as the Asian and global economies recover.”

When evaluating applications for EPs and S Passes, MOM will now also place more emphasis on whether the firm has continued to support its local PMET (professional, manager, executive and technician) staff, or whether it has discriminated against qualified Singaporeans.

Date: 31 Aug 2020

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