Knowledge Highlights 17 March 2022

The Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”) will be progressively implementing changes to the Employment Pass (“EP”) eligibility framework over the next few years to strengthen the quality of EP holders and their complementarity to the local workforce.

Overview of changes to EP eligibility

MOM will be raising the qualifying salary and introducing a points-based Complementarity Assessment Framework (“COMPASS”) for EP applications. These changes will apply progressively from 1 September 2022.

Two-stage eligibility framework 

Candidates must pass a two-stage eligibility framework:

  • Stage 1: Earn at least the EP qualifying salary, which will be benchmarked to the salaries of the top one-third of the local professionals, managers, executives and technicians (“PMETs”) by age.
  • Stage 2: Pass COMPASS.

Employers must continue to meet the Fair Consideration Framework (“FCF”) job advertising requirement before submitting a new EP or S Pass application.

Timeline

Changes

New applications

Renewals

Higher qualifying salary

From 1 September 2022

From 1 September 2023

Introduce COMPASS

From 1 September 2023

From 1 September 2024

(Source: MOM Overview of changes to Employment Pass eligibility webpage) 

Updates to EP qualifying salary

To ensure the quality of EP holders, the EP qualifying salary will be benchmarked to salaries of the top one-third of the local PMET workforce. EP holders must meet a higher qualifying salary from 1 September 2022 for new applications, and from 1 September 2023 for renewals.

Older candidates will require a higher salary to qualify and the financial services sector will continue to have a higher qualifying salary due to higher wage norms. With this benchmark, employers should expect regular updates to the qualifying salary to reflect local PMET wage trends, taking into account prevailing economic conditions.

Sectors

Current minimum qualifying salary

Revised minimum qualifying salary

All
(except financial services)

S$4,500
(increases up to S$8,400 for candidate in mid-40s)

S$5,000
(increases up to S$10,500 for candidate in mid-40s)

Financial services

S$5,000
(increases up to S$9,300 for candidate in mid-40s)

S$5,500
(increases up to S$11,500 for candidate in mid-40s)

(Source: MOM Updates to EP qualifying salary webpage) 

Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS)

In addition to meeting the qualifying salary, EP candidates must pass a points-based COMPASS.

How COMPASS works 

Criteria

Individual attributes

Firm-related attributes

Foundation criteria

C1. Salary

Relative to local PMET salary norms for sector

C3. Diversity

Whether candidate improves nationality diversity in firm

C2. Qualifications

Based on candidate’s qualifications

C4. Support for local employment

Based on local PMET share relative to industry peers

Bonus criteria

C5. Skills bonus

(Shortage Occupation List)

For candidate in job where skills shortages exist

C6. Strategic economic priorities bonus

For partnership with Government on ambitious innovation or internationalisation activities

(Source: MOM Complementarity Assessment Framework webpage) 

COMPASS evaluates EP applications based on a holistic set of individual and firm-related attributes. Applications are scored on four foundational criteria and earn points if they meet or exceed expectations.

Points for each foundational criterion

Assessment

20

Exceeds expectations

10

Meets expectations

0

Does not meet expectations

(Source: MOM Complementarity Assessment Framework webpage)

An application can also earn additional points on bonus criteria if it meets the relevant qualifying conditions.

Applicants require 40 points to pass COMPASS:

  • Applications that meet expectations (earn 10 points) on all four foundational criteria will pass (Example A-1 and Example A-2)
  • Otherwise, applications can make up the required points by exceeding expectations on another criterion (Example B) or by scoring bonus points (Example C)

Foundational Criteria

Points

C1. Salary (Individual)

Fixed monthly salary compared to local PMET salaries in sector by age

·         ≥ 90th percentile

20

·         65th to 90th percentile

10

·         < 65th percentile

0

C2. Qualification (Individual)

Based on candidate’s qualifications

·         Top-tier institution

20

·         Degree-equivalent qualification

10

·         No degree-equivalent qualification

0

C3. Diversity (Firm-related)

Share of candidate's nationality among firm’s PMETs

·         < 5%

20

·         5 to 25%

10

·         ≥ 25%

0

C4. Support for local employment (Firm-related)

Firm’s share of local PMETs within its subsector

·         ≥ 50th percentile

20

·         20th to 50th percentile

10

·         < 20th percentile

0

Bonus criteria

C5. Skills Bonus - Shortage Occupation List (Individual)

Job on the Shortage Occupation List

(Reduced to +10 if the share of candidate’s nationality among the firm’s PMETs is one-third or higher)

+20

C6. Strategic Economic Priorities Bonus (Firm-related)

Firm meets specific assessment criteria on innovation or internationalisation activities

+10

(Source: MOM Complementarity Assessment Framework webpage)

Criteria details

A summary of the COMPASS criteria is set out below. More details are available from the MOM Complementarity Assessment Framework webpage.

  • Salary: All applicants must meet the EP qualifying salary, which increases with age. COMPASS further accounts for sectoral differences in salary norms. An application earns points by meeting sector-specific benchmarks for PMET salaries. These benchmarks are also age-adjusted.
  • Qualifications: Employers are responsible for ensuring that a candidate’s qualifications are genuine and were awarded by accredited institutions. Qualifications are not a mandatory requirement under COMPASS. Candidates who do not hold degree-equivalent qualifications can still pass COMPASS by earning sufficient points on other criteria.
  • Diversity: COMPASS awards more points to applications where the candidate’s nationality forms a small share of the firm’s PMET employees. No points are earned if the firm is applying to bring in a candidate whose nationality currently forms a significant share of its PMET employees. MOM considers all employees earning at least S$3,000 per month in the firm as PMETs when computing this criterion.
  • Support for local employment: An application earns more points if the firm has a relatively higher share of locals among PMET employees, compared to the applicant’s peers in the same subsector. MOM considers all employees earning at least S$3,000 per month in the firm as PMETs when computing this criterion.
  • Skills bonus (Shortage Occupation List): The Shortage Occupation List (“SOL”) recognises EP holders in occupations requiring highly specialised skills that are currently in shortage in the local workforce. MOM indicates that this could include niche infocomm-related roles supporting Singapore’s digitalisation drive. The SOL is determined by a robust tripartite evaluation process that takes into account industry needs and local workforce development efforts.
  • Strategic economic priorities bonus: COMPASS recognises companies that are undertaking ambitious innovation, or internationalisation activities in partnership with the Government, in line with Singapore’s economic priorities. Such companies should also have the scale or potential to provide good jobs for locals.

Exemption from COMPASS

A candidate is exempted from COMPASS if he or she fulfils any of the following conditions:

  • Earning at least S$20,000 fixed monthly salary (similar to the prevailing FCF job advertising exemption);
  • Applying as an overseas intra-corporate transferee under the World Trade Organization’s General Agreement on Trade in Services or an applicable Free Trade Agreement that Singapore is party to; or
  • Filling a role on a short-term basis, i.e. one month or less.

Case studies

MOM has provided some examples on how EP applications may be scored on COMPASS. Details can be found on the MOM Complementarity Assessment Framework webpage here.

Reference materials

The MOM Upcoming changes to Employment Pass eligibility webpage is available on the MOM website www.mom.gov.sg. 

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