On 29 August 2022, the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”), together with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Communications , have announced four enhancements to the work pass framework with the aim of strengthening Singapore’s position as a global hut for talent.
This client update summarises the four enhancements introduced.
The following enhancements will be discussed below:
- Introduction of the Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass (“ONE Pass”)
- New benchmark pegged to the top 10% for the requirements of the Fair Consideration Framework (“FCF”) job advertising and the soon-to-be-implemented Complementarity Assessment Framework (“COMPASS”)
- Shorter FCF job advertising duration and processing time for employment pass (“EP”) applications
- Introduction of a five-year EP for experienced professionals for specific tech occupations
Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass
The ONE Pass, available from 1 January 2023, is a personalised five-year work pass that allows holders to concurrently start, operate, and work for multiple companies in Singapore at any one time.
There are two routes to apply for the ONE Pass:
1) Candidates must earn a fixed monthly salary of at least S$30,000 within the last one year, or show that they will earn such amount under a future employer in Singapore. Overseas candidates (i.e. those who are not existing work pass holders) will also have to demonstrate that they have been working for an established company (i.e. a market capitalisation of at least US$500 million or an annual revenue of at least US$200 million) overseas for at least one year, or will be working for an established company in Singapore.
2) Alternatively, candidates must have outstanding achievements in the arts and culture, sports, science and technology, and academia and research. Further details are expected to be released by the MOM closer to 1 January 2023.
Employers should take note that the ONE Pass is tied to the individual instead of the employer. Furthermore, the hiring of ONE Pass holders is not subject to the FCF job advertising requirement and COMPASS.
ONE Pass holders will be required to provide MOM annually with the details on their professional activities and annual salary. Spouses of ONE Pass holders will be able to work on a Letter of Consent.
New Benchmark Pegged to the Top 10% of EP Holders
With effect from 1 September 2023, MOM will introduce a new benchmark pegged to the top 10% of EP holders. The salary threshold for exemption from the FCF job advertising requirement and COMPASS, as well as the salary criterion for the Personalised Employment Pass (“PEP”) will be aligned to this benchmark at S$22,500 to streamline and give employers greater clarity and transparency on the work pass framework.
These thresholds will be reviewed by MOM annually against the benchmark, taking into account prevailing economic conditions.
Shorter FCF Job Advertising Duration and Processing Time for EP Applications
For all EP applications, the following changes will apply to allow employers to be more responsive to business needs:
1) FCF job advertising duration will reduce from the previous 28 days to 14 days, with effect from 1 September 2022.
2) EP applications will be processed or given an update within 10 business days, with immediate effect.
Introduction of a five-year EP for experienced tech professionals with skills in shortage
From 1 September 2023, a five-year EP will be introduced to give greater certainty to experienced tech professionals as well as businesses in their workforce planning, and allow Singapore to anchor tech capabilities while developing the local pipeline. The five-year EP will be available for individuals who meet the following criteria:
1) Fill specific tech occupations on the COMPASS Shortage Occupation List (“SOL”) (the first SOL will be announced in March 2023).
2) Earn a fixed monthly salary of at least S$10,500 (for candidates aged 36 and above, the salary required increases with age, up to a maximum of S$13,500 at age 45 and beyond).
3) Pass COMPASS and score at least 10 points on Criterion 3 (Diversity).
In addition, MOM will conduct further verification checks to ensure that the candidates have the specialised skills required to perform the specified tech occupations. As the EP is tied to employment in the specific shortage occupation, MOM will need to be informed if the EP candidate need to be redeployed to a different job role.
The proposed enhancements would strengthen Singapore’s position as a global hub for talent, allowing employers to be more responsive and nimble to business needs by competing for global talent. Employers should review the enhancements and examine the impacts on their businesses. When in doubt, legal advice should be sought.
This update was authored by Teo Mae Shaan (Partner) and Yuji Sato (Associate).
For further information, please contact:
Teo Mae Shaan, Partner, Shook Lin & Bok