Singapore plans to increase minimum qualifying salary for foreigners

The salaries are being raised for foreigners entering the Singapore workforce under Employment Pass following Singaporeans job loss concerns raised during the July 2020 general elections.

Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower is planning to increase the minimum qualifying salary to $3,659 for entry-level employment pass for foreigners in the financial services sector.

The salaries are being raised for foreigners entering the Singapore workforce under Employment Pass (EP) following Singaporeans job loss concerns raised during the July 2020 general elections.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Thursday said it supports the move by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

The increase in salary will provide further support for the hiring of Singaporeans in the financial services sector, the Channel News Asia reported citing MAS, the de facto central bank.

On Thursday, the MOM announced that the minimum qualifying salary for all EP candidates will be raised by 600 Singapore dollars to 4,500 dollars from September 1.

For EP candidates in the financial services sector, this will be increased by a further 500 dollars to 5,000 dollars from December 1.

It is the first time the manpower ministry is setting higher qualifying salaries for a specific sector.

Qualifying salaries for older and more experienced EP candidates in the financial services sector will also be raised, with those in their 40s needing to meet about double the minimum qualifying salary for the youngest applicants, the manpower ministry said.

For renewal applicants, the new salary criteria will come into effect from May 1, 2021.

“Salaries in the financial services sector have been consistently higher than in other sectors. The sector also continues to hire and has been attracting strong interest from local jobseekers with good qualifications,” the MOM said.

The MAS said it worked with the MOM to determine the new minimum qualifying salary for those in the financial services sector, and took into account the higher local salary levels for those in the sector.

“The sector has continued to create jobs even in the current crisis, albeit with a smaller net increase of about 1,500 jobs in the first half of the year, with four out of five jobs going to Singapore citizens,” said the MAS.

“While job creation will be slower in the second half of the year and could remain muted next year, the financial sector is well positioned to be an important source of job opportunities for Singaporeans in the years ahead,” it said.

This “calibrated increase” in the minimum qualifying salary will allow financial institutions to complement their local workforce by “tapping on a global talent pool for the specialised skillsets that the financial sector needs,” said the MAS.

These include employees in areas such as cyber security, machine learning and full stack development, as well as expertise in new growth segments like green finance, pandemic risk insurance, and family offices.

The move towards the higher salary criteria for EP candidates complements MAS’ manpower development programmes to expand job opportunities and deepen local capabilities.

“A high quality workforce, with a strong Singaporean core complemented by EP holders with specialised skills, will best enable our financial services sector to compete internationally, and seize new growth opportunities as the Asian and global economies recover,” said Jacqueline Loh, deputy managing director of markets and development at the MAS.

The MOM also announced on Thursday that from October, the minimum qualifying salary for S Pass holders will be raised by 100 dollars to 2,500 dollars, with qualifying salaries for older and more experienced S Pass candidates revised accordingly.

The changes will apply to renewal S Pass applicants from May 1, 2021.

The MOM also said that it will also extend job advertising requirements under the Fair Consideration Framework to S Pass applications submitted from October 1, 2020.

The minimum job advertising duration for EP and S Pass holders applications will be doubled from 14 days to 28 days from October 1.

“This will promote greater awareness of vacancies in mid-skilled jobs among local jobseekers, and also require employers to make greater efforts to consider local candidates,” the MOM added.

Adjusting the employment pass and S Pass criteria to complement the measures available for businesses to expand and retain the local employment is a timely step amid the COVID-19 economic fallout, said Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters in a virtual press conference, Teo said that the criteria for approving work passes are regularly updated, depending on the prevailing conditions of the economy at the time .

“The key shift is that we now see in the job market more slack. And the more slack is really a result of people having been put out of work because their companies have decided that it’s not possible for them to be retained,” the Channel News Asia quoted the minister.

She also noted that there are people looking for alternative work as their working hours have been reduced.

“Yes, we have reopened the economy, but we also must recognise that the resumption of activities is quite uneven,” Teo said, adding that some sectors are experiencing manpower shortages compared to others.


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