Changes to Singapore's Employment Pass Framework - New 5-Year ONE Pass for Top TalentFCF Job Advertising Reduced to 14 Days
During his National Day Rally speech on 21 August 2022, Prime Minister Lee announced that the Singapore government would be introducing new initiatives to attract and retain top talent and secure Singapore’s long-term economic success in a post-COVID-19 world.
The details of these initiatives were fleshed out by Manpower Minister Tan See Leng during a speech on 29 August 2022. In summary, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will be implementing four key changes to the Employment Pass (EP) framework as follows:
1. Introduction of new 5-year EP for top talent
With effect from 1 January 2023, a new type of employment pass (Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass or ONE Pass) will be made available for top global talent.
The ONE Pass will have two key advantages compared to a regular EP: (i) the duration will be for up to five years compared to two years (for first-time candidates) or three years (for renewals); and (ii) the pass holder will be able to start, operate or work for multiple companies rather than being tied to a single employer provided they notify the MOM of their activities on an annual basis. The applicant’s spouse will also be able to work subject to obtaining a Letter of Consent, which is currently not available to spouses of regular EP holders who must apply for their own EP.
To be a qualifying applicant, individuals will need to earn a fixed monthly salary of at least S USD30,000, which is equivalent to the top 5% of EP holders. Alternatively, individuals who do not meet the salary criterion may still be a qualifying applicant if they have been officially recognised with outstanding achievements in the following sectors: arts, sports, science and/or academia.
Applicants with no recent employment history in Singapore are further required to provide evidence demonstrating that they have worked or will be working for a company with a market capitalisation of at least USD500 million or an annual revenue of SGD200 million.
ONE Pass holders will also be exempt from the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) job advertising requirement and the upcoming Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS). For further details of the upcoming COMPASS framework, please refer to our previous alert.
2. New benchmark for exemption from FCF job advertising requirement and COMPASS, and eligibility for Personalised Employment Pass
Currently, if an EP applicant earns a monthly salary of at least SGD20,000, they are exempt from needing to pass COMPASS and the employer is not required to comply with the requirement under the FCF to first advertise the position for at least 28 consecutive days.
Separately, existing EP holders earning at least 12,000 and overseas candidates earning at least SGD18,000 are eligible to apply for a Personalised Employment Pass (PEP). The PEP is a non-renewable three-year work pass designed for high-earning professionals which is not tied to any employer but is sponsored by the individual him/herself.
To streamline these requirements, the exemption bar for FCF job advertising requirement/COMPASS and the minimum salary threshold to qualify for a PEP will both be increased to SGD22,500 with effect from 1 September 2023 as follows:
Personalised Employment Pass
|Candidate||Current Minimum Qualifying Salary||New Minimum Qualifying Salary|
|Existing EP holder||SGD12,000||SGDD22,500|
Exemption Bar for FCF requirement and COMPASS
|Framework||Current Exemption Bar||New Exemption Bar|
FCF – job advertising requirement
The new single benchmark of SGD22,500 is equivalent to the top 10% of EP holders.
3. Restoration of FCF job advertising duration to 14 days and improving EP processing time
With effect from 1 September 2022, the requirement to advertise positions under the FCF for at least 28 days will be restored to 14 days. The FCF job advertising duration had been increased from 14 days to 28 days in October 2020 due to the then weak labour market and economic uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. With unemployment now broadly back to pre-COVID-19 levels, the original duration of 14 days can now be restored.
Similarly, the processing time for all EP applications will be shortened from approximately three weeks to ten days. Further, to enhance transparency, the MOM will now provide employers with reasons in the event of a failed or delayed EP application.
4. 5-year EP option for experienced tech professionals
In view of a shortage in experienced tech professionals, the option of a 5-year EP will be extended to foreigners if the applicant’s tech occupation is listed on the COMPASS Shortage Occupation List. This change will be effective from 1 September 2023.
Eligible applicants will need to earn a minimum monthly salary of SGD10,500, pass COMPASS and have scored at least 10 points on the diversity criterion.
The raft of new measures is a strong message by the Singapore government that Singapore is open for business and that it views the introduction of top foreign talent as key pillar of its post-COVID-19 recovery strategy.
Further details will be announced by the MOM in the coming weeks.
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