Managing the Global Workforce in Singapore
The idea of the globalized workforce is no longer new. Throughout the world, many urban centres have become hotspots for international talent seeking employment with multi-national organizations in local, regional, or global roles.
Singapore is among the most coveted destinations, not just for Asian workers, but people from all over the world. Professionals and skilled workers alike across industries are drawn by Singapore’s modern facilities, desirable work conditions, cultural diversity, and overall high standard of living.
However, Singapore is a geographically small city-state. The SG government must address the unique challenge of giving local Singaporeans as much employment opportunity as possible, while also meeting the needs of organizations that require foreign talent. Every company has a Foreign Worker Quota, or ceiling for the number of foreign workers they can employ. To help companies ensure they hire only the best talent within their quota, the SG government has in place strict yet fair regulations to screen non-locals applying for work in Singapore.
Work permits and work passes in Singapore
All Singaporean and Singapore-based companies must secure a legal document for each of their foreign workers most commonly referred to as a “work visa” or “employment visa”. Locally, this document is called a work permit or pass. In the Singaporean context, these two terms refer to different categories of work visas:
The term “permit” applies to skilled and semi-skilled workers. Work Permits allow such foreign workers from a pre-approved list of countries to work in certain industries in Singapore, including construction, manufacturing, services, processing, and shipping.
The term “pass” on the other hand tends to apply to more specialized work. Passes are for skilled workers who meet a particular minimum salary, as well as higher-tier workers such as managers, executives, and professionals.
These two general categories are further subdivided into more types of permits and passes.
Considerations for Employers Applying for Work Passes and Permits
As an employer, you must take the time to understand the following key considerations, as these will affect your eligibility to hire foreign workers, as well as each worker’s eligibility to come to Singapore:
Your foreign worker quota
As earlier mentioned, every company has its own foreign worker quota that can be calculated based on their industry. Quotas also have corresponding levies or fines that employers must see to - this helps the SG government regulate the number of workers coming into the country.
The type of pass/permit your talent needs
The Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) outlines 6 categories of Work Passes, with each having several sub-types depending on specific types of work (including training and study), salary bands, and projected lengths of stay. Foreign workers’ families are also taken into account in these categories. Skip this section and see the "Types of Work Passes and Permits" section below for more.
In spite of the possibility that your organization has open roles and the space to hire foreign workers in your quota, this does not mean that you will be able to hire just anyone. Each pass or permit applicant must meet minimum requirements set by the Singaporean government. They - through you as their employer - must submit documentary requirements to show that they are indeed qualified for the role they are taking.
Document verification proof
As an added layer of security, the MOM requires that certain documents submitted must also be verified genuine.
As a specific example, an application for an Employment Pass or E Pass (for professional, managerial, and executive work) requires that the applicant’s educational qualifications are verified by MOM-accredited bodies to ensure that their credentials are authentic, as are the institutions that awarded them.
There are also exemptions for certain types of short-term work, such as religious workers, foreign speakers, or journalists. Refer to the Exemptions list here for more details.
Types of Work Passes and Permits
Below is the summary of work passes and permits for various roles:
- Employment Pass (E Pass or EP) - For foreign professionals, managers and executives
- EntrePass - For foreign entrepreneurs starting a venture-backed or innovation-led business in Singapore
- Personalized Employment Pass (PEP) - For high-earning Employment Pass holders or overseas foreign professionals; this type offers greater flexibility than an Employment Pass
- Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass - For talent in business, arts and culture, sports, and academia and research
Skilled and semi-skilled workers
- S Pass - For skilled workers who will earn at least 3,150 Singapore dollars a month.
- Work Permit for Migrant Worker - For skilled and semi-skilled workers in construction, manufacturing, shipping, processing and service industries
- Work Permit for Migrant Domestic Worker - For migrant domestic workers
- Work Permit for Confinement Nanny - For Malaysian confinement nannies to work in Singapore for up to 16 weeks starting from the birth of the employer's child
- Work Permit for Performing Artiste - For performers in public entertainment outlets such as bars, hotels, and nightclubs
Trainees and students
- Training Employment Pass - For foreign professionals undergoing practical training
- Work Holiday Pass under Work Holiday Programme - For students and graduates aged 18 to 25 who want to work and holiday in Singapore for 6 months
- Work Holiday pass under Work and Holiday Visa Programme - For Australian students and graduates aged 18 to 30 who want to work and holiday in Singapore for 1 year
- Training Work Permit - For semi-skilled foreign trainees or students undergoing practical training in Singapore for up to 6 months
There are also Family Member passes and Exemptions - learn more on the SG MOM website.
Securing a work permit or pass for your foreign employees to be able to enter in Singapore is a standard process undertaken by many employers. The application is stringent and designed to ensure employers bring in only the best talent into Singapore. Ensure that you understand not just the Work Permit or Work Pass type that your employees need, but also the application requirements and verification proofs needed to ensure a smooth and successful application for your workers.
Veremark is an accredited partner of the Singapore Ministry of Manpower and can verify your overseas candidate’s educational records. Contact us to learn about how we can assist you with education background checks and other background checks your company may require.
Request a discovery session with one of our background screening experts today.