Singapore Immigration Alert - Enhancement to the Employment Pass Framework - Effective 2014
In lieu of the recent measures to tighten the regulations and eligibility requirements for the hiring of foreigners, the Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has recently announced upcoming changes to the minimum qualifying salary for the Employment Pass (EP) and implementation of Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) rules. These new changes will take effect in 2014.
Changes to Minimum Fixed Monthly Qualifying Salary
• From Jan 2014, the minimum fixed monthly Qualifying Salary for new EP applications is raised from $3,000 (existing criteria) to $3,300. Other existing criteria such as educational qualification (only those from good quality institutions will be considered) and work experience will continue to be factored in by MOM when assessing an application.
(a) Fresh graduates from good institutions, but with no work experience, could qualify if they earn at least $3,300.
(b) For older applicants, they are required to earn a higher salary (>$3,300), to commensurate with the work experience and quality they are expected to possess. Applicants with proven track records and exceptional skills-sets, but who may not have the qualifications, can still be considered for the EP.
Transitional Measures for Existing EP holders
As the changes to the minimum fixed monthly qualifying salary will only be effective from 1 January 2014, for existing EP holders, MOM will phase in the new requirements over the next 1-2 years (depending on when their existing passes expire), to give companies and affected EP holders time to make the necessary adjustments.
• Existing EP holders whose passes expire: – Before 1 January 2014: will receive a one-time renewal of up to two years based on existing EP criteria.
– Between 1 January 2014 and 30 June 2014 (both dates inclusive) will receive a one-time renewal of up to one year based on the existing EP criteria.
– After 30 June 2014: The new EP criteria shall apply. At point of renewal, if the existing EP holder is not able to meet the new qualifying salary of $3,300, he may apply an S Pass instead (lower pass category).
The above transitional measures would only apply if existing EP holders do not change their employers.
Change of Employer
Existing EP holders who change employers and apply for a new EP after 1 January 2014 will have their applications considered under the new EP criteria.
Existing EP holders with tagged dependent passes in Singapore by 1 January 2014 will retain these privileges as long as their passes remain valid and there is no change of employers.
Implementation of Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) Rules
• From August 2014, companies must advertise a job vacancy on a new jobs bank administered by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA). The advertisement must be open to Singaporean candidates, in line with the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices (www.tafep.sg/fairemployment.asp) and remain posted for at least 14 calendar days. All the above requirements must be met before an EP application for a foreign hire can be submitted to MOM, upon careful consideration that no Singaporean candidate is qualified or suitable for the position advertised.
•Companies that have a much smaller core of Singaporeans workforce at the Professional, Managerial and Executive (PME) level compared to other companies in the same industry or have had recurrent complaints of nationality-based or other biased HR practices will be subjected to greater scrutiny and additional requirements by MOM OR may have their work pass privileges curtailed if no improvements are made to their recruitment and hiring practices.
Exception from Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) Rules and advertising requirements
• Companies with 25 or fewer employees (includes local and foreign workforce) does not have to advertise their job vacancies on the jobs bank. • For positions that pay a fixed monthly salary of $12,000 and more, no advertisement on the job banks are required.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this immigration alert is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further enquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact your respective Crown Singapore Immigration Consultant.
Kit Tang, Regional Immigration Manager - Asia
Mahadir Khan, Immigration Manager - Singapore