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During the delivery of the Singapore budget announcement earlier this year, Finance Minister, Lawrence Wong set out six pillars of focus for 2022:

  1. Supporting the COVID-19 recovery with immediate support for households, businesses and workers.
  2. Investing in new digital capabilities, strengthening the local enterprise ecosystem and offering more support for innovation, R&D and productivity.
  3. Investing in people by supporting training, job redesigns and skills matching schemes, supporting mid-career workers and adjusting foreign worker policies to improve local-foreign complementarity.
  4. Renewing and strengthening the social compact by uplifting lower-wage workers, boosting retirement adequacy and building a caring and inclusive society.
  5. Advancing green transition through a focus on Net Zero ambition, carbon tax adjustments, green growth opportunities and sustainable living.
  6. Developing a fairer and more resilient tax system to meet significant and growing recurrent spending needs, and requiring those with more to contribute more

These six areas will also be key to the longer term strategy for economic growth. A number of new schemes and packages offering support for both individuals and businesses were also presented within these focus areas, including a new Enterprise Financing Scheme (EFS) to support business growth.

In line with pillar three, changes are to be made to foreign workforce policies. The aim of these changes, as stated by the Ministry of Manpower, is to support industry transformation, whilst also providing greater clarity for businesses and strengthening the complementarity and diversity of Singapore’s foreign workforce.

Relevance to global mobility

For businesses with employees on assignment in Singapore, or active mobility into the country, there are a few significant changes and implementation dates worth noting.

Minister Wong was keen to stress that Singapore would “continue to stay open and welcome talent from around the world”, as he provided an overview of the planned updates to requirements for acquiring work passes for both highly skilled foreign professionals (The Employment Pass) and mid-level skilled staff or technicians (S Pass).

Employment Pass and S Pass

From September 2022 the minimum qualifying monthly salary for new Employment Pass (EP) applicants will be raised to 5,000 SGD. For the financial sector, this will be raised to 5,500 SGD.

The minimum qualifying salary for new S Pass applicants will also be raised by 500 SGD to 3,500 SGD for financial services and to 3,000 SGD for all other sectors.
Older EP and S Pass candidates will continue to require a higher salary to qualify, ensuring a level playing field for all age groups.

A one year buffer will be granted for renewal applications for both passes, ending on 1st September 2023.

To spur industry transformation and incentivise firms to hire higher-skilled foreign workers, the S Pass quota will change for the construction and process sectors, with the Dependency Ratio Ceiling (DRC) reducing from a ratio of 1 local employee to 7 Work Permit Holders (WPHs) or S Pass holders, to 1 local employee to 5 WPHs or S Pass holders.

Giving firms time to adjust, these changes will take place from 1st January 2024.

Complementarity Assessment Framework

As of September 2023 new EP candidates will need to earn sufficient credits under a new points-based Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) in order to qualify for an EP. The COMPASS framework comprises of six criteria assessing either individual or firm-related attributes; the four foundational criteria focus on salary, diversity, qualifications and support for local employment, with two bonus criteria looking at where the position sits on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) and whether the company meets specific assessment criteria on internationalisation and innovation activities.

K2 Global Immigration Manager Jesper Albrekt comments:

“We welcome this initiative as we believe it may increase transparency on how EPs are assessed, both from a candidate and company perspective. We would recommend that businesses start to take steps to ensure they are ready for the COMPASS implementation, even if all of the criteria are not yet fully clear.”

If you need support navigating these changes, get in touch with K2 today. Our immigration experts can provide you with detailed information and analysis of the COMPASS assessment criteria, along with tailored recommendations to support your business needs.

We are also holding a webinar on the topic of Singapore Immigration Changes at 2.00pm (SGT) on 27th April. You can register for this event HERE.

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