Singapore has long been a free economy with liberal immigration policies over many decades. The strong ring economic growth and low fertility rate of this nation have made it necessary for Singapore to hire both skilled and unskilled foreign workers to compensate for its labor market shortage. It also looks for foreign talents for its economic growth and technological innovation.
Country’s immigration law warrants Singapore work pass for professionals, managers, entrepreneurs, and lesser qualified professionals to legally work in the country who are employed by locally registered Singapore companies
Employment Pass, often known as E Pass and the Skilled Pass known as S Pass are two separate work passes meant for professionals with high-level qualifications and technicians with mid-level skills respectively.
Though both are work passes, there are many differences between these two based on the following criteria.
A foreigner having a university degree, professional qualifications, or specialized skills is eligible for E Pass provided he/she has a job offer in Singapore in a managerial, executive, or specialized capacity with a fixed monthly salary of at least SGD 4,500. Older and more experienced candidates need higher salaries.
S Pass is applicable for overseas workers with relevant experience and a degree, diploma, or other technical certificates in a minimum one-year full-time study course. He/she should earn a fixed monthly salary of a minimum of SGD 2,500 while older and more experienced applicants need higher salaries to qualify.
The qualifying salary varies based on specific sectors and years of working experience.
For both E Pass and S Pass, Singapore-registered employers or approved employment agencies can apply to MOM on behalf of employees. New employers need to apply for a new pass if an employee changes jobs.
The validity for E Pass and S Pass is the same and is up to 2 years for first-time applicants. These passes need to be renewed every 3 years.
Levy, the pricing mechanism is applied to regulate the number of foreign workers in Singapore and its rates are periodically reviewed and revised.
For E Pass holders, Skills Development Levy (SDL) applies to both full-time and part-time foreign employees. Employers pay a levy up to the first SGD 4500 of the monthly salary @ 0.25% of 4500 or SGD 2, whichever is higher.
For S Pass holders, both foreign worker levy and Skills Development Levy apply and an employer must pay the levy for all S Pass holders. The levy is enforced from the day of S Pass issuance and only ends with cancellation and expiration of S Pass. For S Pass holders employed in the services sector, the levy rate is as under
- For Tier 1 employees up to 10 percent of your total workforce with applicable monthly and daily levy rate of SGD 330 and 10.85 respectively
- If the 10 % S Pass quota is temporarily exceeded due to attrition, Tier 2 levy rate applies to excess S Passes.
For S Pass holders in the manufacturing sectors, the levy rate is as follows
- For Tier 1, up to 10% of total workforce SGD 330 and SGD 10.35 levy rate on a monthly and daily basis
- For Tier 2, above 10 % to 18% of the total workforce, monthly and daily levy rates are SGD 650 and SGD 21.37
For All other Sectors excluding services and manufacturing, the levy rates are
- For Tier 1 workforce, up to 10% of the total workforce, the applicable levy rate is SGD 330 and 10.85 on a monthly and daily basis respectively.
- For Tier 2 workforce, 10 to 20% percent of the total workforce, the levy rates are SGD 650 and 21.37.
The daily levy rate only applies to S Pass holders who don’t work for an entire calendar month.
No Quota applies for E Pass
For S Pass quota applies and is as under
For manufacturing sectors, the S Pass quota is reduced from 20% to 18% and applicable from January 2022. It is further reduced to 15% from January 2023.
You cannot hire more S Pass holders than 13% of the company’s total workforce in the services sector.
For construction, marine, shipyard, and process, the S Pass quota was reduced to 15% from 18% effective January 2023.
The step by step process for application is as under
- Posting a job ad on a government-approved website matching the occupation as per Employment Pass / S Pass application.
- Submitting the Employment Pass / S Pass application by the employer and must be the same as per the job advertised. The Ad must be open for at least 28 days after publication and another 28 days if changes are made.
On the expiry of the active Job ad, the Employment Pass / S Pass application can be initiated. No Employment Pass / S Pass application is allowed if the employer takes more than 3 months to fill in the vacancy.