Committee of Supply – Ministry of Manpower

03 Mar 2020 3 min read

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Tighter rules on hiring foreigners with hikes in Employment Pass minimum pay

Salary requirements for foreign workers will be tightened as part of efforts to assure Singaporeans that they are competing on a level playing field.

From May this year, the minimum salary for foreign professionals to qualify for an Employment Pass (EP) will be raised to $3,900 per month, up from $3,600.

The criteria for older and more experienced EP candidates will also be increased – for example, an EP applicant in his early 40s will need to earn around double the new minimum qualifying salary of $3,900.

“This is only fair, considering the skill sets he or she is expected to have,” said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo at the debate of her ministry’s budget. “It helps to ensure a level playing field for experienced local mid-career PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians).”

The new salary requirement will only take effect for EP renewals from May 1, 2021, “to moderate the impact on businesses”, she added.

In addition, the local qualifying salary or the minimum salary a local worker must earn to count towards a firm’s quota for hiring foreigners on work permits and S Passes will be raised from $1,300 to $1,400. This will take effect in July.

Up to $250,000 for firms raising retirement and re-employment age early

Progressive companies that raise both their retirement and re-employment age ahead of the national schedule can receive up to $250,000 through a new Senior Worker Early AdopterGrant, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said.

Mrs Teo said this is part of the $1.3 billion Senior Worker Support Package announced in the Budget statement last month.

The statutory retirement age will go up gradually from 62 to 65 by 2030, while that of re-employment age from 67 to 70 in the same period.

The first scheduled increase is on July 1, 2022, when the respective ages will rise to 63 and 68.

Companies that raise the ages three or more years in advance can receive $5,000 per senior worker aged 60 and older, capped at 50 workers.

Enhanced training assistance for low-wage workers and self-employed persons

From July 2020, the Workfare Skills Support (WSS) Scheme – which replaces the Workfare Training Support Scheme – will be introduced as part of efforts to help low wage workers upgrade their skills and boost their career mobility, Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad announced.

The qualifying income cap for the new scheme will be S$2,300 a month, S$300 more than its predecessor.

Self-employed persons can also look forward to a new S$36 million training Support scheme. Over the next three months, self-employed persons will be paid an hourly training allowance of S$7.50 when they attend courses under the SkillsFuture series, or selected sector-specific training programmes. There is no cap to how much training self-employed persons can sign up for under the scheme. 

MOM to ensure fair hiring considerations

MOM will be stepping up measures to ensure fair hiring consideration in the workplace.

Mrs Teo announced that the advertising requirement when employers advertise job openings will be expanded to include jobs paying up to $20,000 per month, an increase from the current $15,000. This takes effect from May.

Under the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF), employers are required to advertise job openings on national jobs portal MyCareersFuture.sg before submitting EP applications.

1,000 firms suspected of discriminatory practices placed on Government watchlist

About 1,000 firms have been put on the FCF watch listafter being suspected of discriminatory hiring practices, up from the previous update of 600 firms last year, Mrs Teo said in Parliament.

Since the watch list was introduced in 2016, a total of 3,000 EP applications been rejected or withheld by MOM, or withdrawn by employers, while firms under the FCF watch list have hired more than 4,400 Singaporean PMETs, she noted.

MOM has also taken action against 18 more firms which have been found to violate the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices, further to five recalcitrant firms announced in January.