From January next year, foreign professionals will need to be paid at least $3,600 a month if firms want to hire them on Employment Passes (EPs), up from $3,300 now.

The qualifying EP salary was last raised in 2014, from $3,000, and before that in 2012, from $2,800. More experienced workers must also earn more to match their skills and work experience.

It would appear that the government is trying to correct a long standing problem – the number of foreigners in Singapore. This is of course a somewhat welcome move for Singaporeans especially during a period of economic uncertainty, with forecasts putting Singapore’s growth this year at around 2%.

And just in case you’re wondering, there were 187,900 EP holders here as of December last year.

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What this means:

  • Not any Ah Mat, Mutu, or Perriera could apply and work in Singapore. They must have more than the necessary skills to justify the pay.  More stringent EP criteria could help raise the quality of workforce.
  • It raises the cost of hiring a foreigner. It ought to protect the local workforce better by ensuring the cost of employing a local is the same as or even lower than that of hiring a foreigner. This would help ensure Singaporeans have some priority at local jobs.

 

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“We expect employers to be more stringent on the qualifications, skills and experiences of foreigners that they hire,” – Singapore National Employers Federation executive director Koh Juan Kiat.

On that note, MOM has been publishing instances where employers who contravene the rules have been punished. This serves as a warning to employers who are thinking of ‘gaming’ the system and conveniently inflating the cost  of their workers on paper.

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“Falsifying salary information to mislead the Ministry to grant S Passes and Employment Passes is a serious offence. We will take stern action against persons or companies, including barring them from applying for new work passes and renewing their existing work passes.” Upon conviction, employers can be fined up to $20,000 per charge and/or jailed for up to two years under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA).

And if you see a company trying to game the system…

Members of the public who know of persons or employers who contravene the EFMA should report the matter to MOM at Tel: (65) 6438 5122 or email mom_fmmd@mom.gov.sg. All information will be kept strictly confidential.