Qualifying salary for Employment Pass to be raised from $3,300 to $3,600 from Jan 1: Manpower Ministry

Office workers seen at Singapore's central business district in 2011.
Office workers seen at Singapore's central business district in 2011. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The qualifying salary for Employment Pass (EP) applications will be raised from $3,300 to $3,600, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced on Tuesday (July 26).

This is part of its regular efforts to keep pace with rising local wages, maintain the quality of Singapore's foreign workforce and enhance their complimentarity to the local workforce, the ministry said.

The last revision to the EP's qualifying salary was made in January 2014, when the current minimum was increased from $3,000.

"MOM's manpower policy framework is designed to meet the manpower needs of the economy, so that businesses can stay competitive and grow, and ultimately create more and better jobs in Singapore," it said in a press release.

The new qualifying salary will kick in from Jan 1 next year (2017).

MOM said applicants will also need to meet other criteria on qualifications and experience in order to be considered.


"Those with more years of experience are required to command higher salaries commensurate with their work experience and skill sets, as per current practice," it added.

Businesses will be given time to make adjustments. For instance, existing EP holders whose passes expire before Jan 1, 2017, will be able to renew - for a duration of up to three years - based on existing EP criteria.

Those whose passes are due to expire between Jan 1, 2017, and June 30, 2017 (both dates inclusive) will be able to renew for a duration of one year.

In April, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said MOM was going to be more demanding before giving the nod for an EP, in his strongest words yet on recurring complaints that foreigners are snatching professional jobs from Singaporeans.

Businesses deemed weak in three areas - the proportion of foreigners in a company, whether the company tried to recruit Singaporeans for the job and the extent of its contribution to the economy and society - would face difficulties in renewing EPs and getting new ones.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday afternoon, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay hailed the move a positive one which would help level the playing field for local professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) and also build a stronger Singaporean core.  

He added that it was important for MOM to be watchful of companies and employers who through "creative means" artificially blow up the wages of its foreign workers to meet the new criteria. 

"Bottomline is that local PMEs should be better off and not worse off," he said.