October 9, 2013 

On September 23, 2013, the Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced new immigration rules to be implemented in 2014. Known as the Fair Consideration Framework, the new policies aim to create fair opportunities for Singaporeans to find good jobs, especially for those individuals who are young graduates or employees at the level of Professionals, Managers, and Executives (PME). 

What’s Changed? 

Increase of Minimum Salary Requirements for Employment Passes 

Following a general increase of Singaporean salaries, the minimum salary requirement for new Employment Pass (EP) applicants will increase on January 1, 2014 from $3,000 to $3,300. This amount will primarily apply to young graduates; older applicants are expected to earn higher salaries in order to qualify, the amount depending on their work experience.

Transition measures have been released for employees who already hold EPs. Thus, for existing EP holders:

  • whose Pass expires before January 1, 2014 are still able to renew their EP for one time based on current criteria;
  • whose Pass expires between January 1, 2014 and June 30, 2014 will be able to renew their EP one time for up to 1 year based on the current criteria;
  • whose Pass expires after June 30, 2014 will need to meet the new salary requirements;
  • who change employer after January 1, 2014 will need to meet the new salary requirements. 

Job Advertisement Requirement 

As of August 2014 companies will need to have advertised a job vacancy for at least 14 calendar days for Singaporeans before submitting the application for an Employment Pass. A new job bank will be created for this purpose, which will be administered by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA). For practical reasons exemptions to this advertising requirement will apply to small companies with 25 or fewer employees, and for positions with a fixed monthly salary of $12,000 and above. 

Additional Scrutiny for Companies with Potential Discriminatory HR Practices 

In the first quarter of 2014 the MOM will start identifying companies who might, either willingly or unknowingly, be applying discriminatory HR practices. This will include companies who have a disproportionately low concentration of Singaporeans at PME level  compared to others in their industry or, for example, have had repeated complaints of nationality-based discriminatory HR practices.

Companies in this position can initially expect to receive a request from MOM during the first quarter of 2014 to provide additional relevant information, such as an organization chart including nationalities, and information on their recruitment processes, staff grievance handling procedures, and local staff development plans.

If the MOM does indeed determine that a company has been applying discriminatory practices, the company will be requested to improve their recruitment and training practices. Failure to comply might cause additional requirements to be placed upon future EP applications. For example, companies in this position may face longer processing times for EP applications, or be required to submit attestations not to displace any similarly-employed Singaporean within 60 calendar days before or after applying for, or renewing, an EP. Non-responsiveness towards the MOM’s requests could ultimately result in the company having their work pass privileges curtailed.

 ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS

Companies who employ foreign workers in Singapore should note the upcoming immigration changes to be implemented in 2014: not only will new salary criteria for Employment Pass applications come into effect on January 1, 2014, but new job advertising requirements will be implemented in August 2014.

In light of the implementation of this new framework, Pro-Link GLOBAL advises companies to keep records of all efforts taken to find a suitable Singaporean candidate for job vacancies.

Furthermore, please notify your Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialist immediately if your company is contacted by the MOM during the first quarter of 2014 with the request to provide additional information, as part of the implementation of the Fair Consideration Framework.

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Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by Pro-Link GLOBAL’s Knowledge Management team.

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