With the job market being ever-changing in today’s society, the implementation of a new work pass and a change in the work pass system were just announced by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) today (29 August).
The new work pass, which will provide much more benefits for holders, will be called the Overseas Networks and Expertise Pass.
And according to Manpower Minister Tan See Leng, this work pass, which will be available for applications from 1 January 2023 onwards, will be part of multiple other initiatives to further reinforce Singapore’s identity as a global talent hub.
The other possible adjustments to the current schemes include revised requirements for job advertising under the Fair Consideration Framework and changes to the existing Employment Pass (EP) scheme.
Dr Tan explained that these adjustments will let businesses “respond quickly to their operational needs”, allowing them to be more competitive, especially in a post-COVID-19 society.
“We are making targeted enhancements to our work pass framework, to better attract top talent and experienced tech professionals in areas of skills shortages,” he added.
Apart from that, Dr Tan also addressed the issue of how some countries may look to their own people to fill up the job market due to the various economic and geopolitical uncertainties.
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On the other hand, other countries may try their best to compete for global talents while they recover from the impacts of COVID-19.
“In this climate, we need to be clear about where Singapore stands. We cannot leave any room for investors to doubt or have questions as to whether Singapore remains open,” he mentioned.
The brand-new initiatives, which will cover four different areas, will be carried out by MOM, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI).
New Work Pass Will Last Longer, Spouses of Pass Holders Can Work as Well
For the Overseas Networks and Expertise Pass, MOM has announced that it will last for five years, which is much longer than the normal EPs that only last for two or three years.
Individuals who hold this pass will also be allowed to start, operate and work for more than one company in Singapore at any point in time.
For comparison, the existing EP only allows one job to be registered on any pass holder’s pass at one time.
These pass holders will also be allowed to sponsor dependants, and their spouses can work in Singapore as well after they are issued a Letter of Consent.
Applicants Must Earn At Least $30,000 Every Month
But while the new pass may seem like an incredibly attractive option for EP applicants, here’s the catch: Applicants of the Overseas Networks and Expertise Pass will have to prove that they make at least $30,000 on a monthly basis.
This salary is “comparable” to that of the top 5% of EP holders in Singapore, and I’ll leave it to you to do the maths regarding how “comparable” it is to your own salary.
As for foreign applicants who have not worked in Singapore recently, they will have to provide proof that they have worked or will be working for an “established company” after they are granted the EP.
And what makes an “established company”, well, established?
According to MOM, the company will have to have a market cap of at least US$500 million (approximately S$700 million) or annual revenue of US$200 million (approximately S$280 million).
However, Dr Tan also noted that those who do not meet the salary criteria may still qualify for the pass if they have “outstanding achievements” in other areas such as arts and culture, sports, science and technology as well as research and academia.
Dr Tan added, “MOM will closely engage pass holders during their time in Singapore.
“The flexibilities offered by this pass are meant to allow pass holders to contribute meaningfully to Singapore. It is not meant to be abused as a visit or travel document,” he concluded.
Other Changes to EP Scheme
And the new pass isn’t the only change that’s happening for the EP scheme.
From 1 September next year, new criteria will be implemented for the top 10% of work pass holders, allowing them to be exempt from the requirements set out by the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) job advertisements and the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS).
FCF, which is a series of guidelines used when employers advertise job openings, aims to reduce discrimination towards potential employees based on factors such as their gender, age and nationality.
COMPASS, on the other hand, is a new points-based holistic framework which will be used to assess EP applicants from next year onwards.
The benchmarks used in this assessment include salary, qualifications, diversity and support for local employment amongst other factors.
This will allow employers to “select high-quality foreign professionals while improving workforce diversity and building a strong Singaporean core”, and will increase transparency as well.
COMPASS will be utilised to evaluate applicants from 1 September 2023 onwards, and will apply to EP renewals from 1 September 2024 onwards as well.
Apart from that, the salary benchmark will be increased from $20,000 to $25,000 per month, while the salary requirements for a Personalised Employment Pass will be changed to $22,500.
The Personalised Employment Pass, which is issued to high-earning EP holders and overseas foreign professionals, does not tie the holder to a certain employer.
This gives the holder more flexibility as they will not be required to reapply for another pass if they choose to switch jobs.
Shorter Time Frame for FCF Advertising
In addition to the various changes to the EP scheme, the FCF job advertising will also take place within a much shorter time frame.
For FCF job advertising, the duration will be shortened from 28 days to just 14 days from 1 September 2022 onwards, almost two years after it was extended to 28 days in 2020.
This will allow companies to “respond to business needs” better.
According to Dr Tan, the duration for FCF job advertising was initially extended in October 2020 due to a weak job market, which allowed job seekers to spend more time responding to various job openings.
He then added that the economy has “recovered strongly” ever since.
Cut in Processing Time for EP Applicants
Moving on, there will also be a cut in the processing time required for EP applicants.
Currently, EP applicants have to wait around three weeks, but the cut will allow the applications to be processed within 10 business days.
With around 85% of EP applications being online as of now, the convenience of technology will ensure faster and more decisive responses with regards to the applications.
However, if MOM requires some more time to decide whether or not it will issue the EP to the applicant, it will inform the applicant’s employer(s) as well.
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New Special 5-Year EP for Experienced Professionals
Last but not least, MOM also announced another new type of EP, which will be open for application to “experienced professionals”.
Applicants must be applying to take on the jobs listed on the Compass Shortage Occupation List, which is a list of tech-related jobs that the industry, trade associations and other partners have come up with.
The list has yet to be finalised for now.
As for how long this new EP will last, it will be valid for five years, just like the Overseas Networks and Expertise Pass.
Of course, apart from their experience in the field, the applicants should also fulfil other requirements such as passing COMPASS.
The salary criterion will also be higher for these applicants, for the benchmark for them will be set at $10,500.
“This enhancement will provide greater certainty to experienced tech professionals when making major decisions on relocating to Singapore, and allow us to anchor tech capabilities even as we develop our local pipeline,” Dr Tan explained.
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