MOM announces updates to foreign workforce policy, support measures for employers and employees, and measures to secure better workplaces
30 March 2023
At the Committee of Supply (“COS”) 2023 debates on 27 February 2023, the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”) announced several developments relating to the Government’s foreign workforce policy, support measures for employers and employees, and measures to secure better workplaces.
This article highlights some of the key developments announced.
Foreign workforce policy
EP and S Pass regimes
MOM has benchmarked the cost of hiring an Employment Pass (“EP”) and S Pass holder to the wages of the top one-third of local professionals, managers, executives, and technicians (PMETs) and local associate professionals and technicians (“APTs”) respectively.
There will be no change to the EP qualifying salary for 2023. However, MOM will proceed with the second step of the increase to the S Pass qualifying salary and the Tier 1 levy in September 2023, as announced in 2022. The S Pass minimum qualifying salary will be raised from S$3,000 to S$3,150. The qualifying salary for older S Pass holders will be higher, given that local APT wages rise with age. The S Pass Tier 1 levy will also increase from the current S$450 to S$550 in September 2023.
As announced at MOM’s COS 2022, the Complementarity Assessment Framework (“COMPASS”), a new transparent and holistic assessment framework for EP applicants, will be applied to new EP applications from September 2023.
To safeguard against gaming by submitting fraudulent educational qualifications, employers who wish to score points under Criterion 2 on “Qualifications” will be required to submit verification proof for qualifications declared on the EP application. This process will be implemented from 1 September 2023.
MOM also announced that it intends to release further details on the two bonus criteria in COMPASS: the Skills Bonus (Criterion C5), which is accorded to EP applicants in occupations on the Shortage Occupation List, and the Strategic Economic Priorities Bonus (Criterion C6), which supports firms that are contributing to Singapore’s strategic economic priorities through ambitious investment, innovation, internationalisation, or company and workforce transformation activities.
Non-Traditional Sources Occupation List
MOM introduced the Non-Traditional Sources (“NTS”) Occupation List at MOM’s COS 2022 to allow firms in the services and manufacturing sectors to adjust to the increase in S Pass qualifying salary and levy. Firms will be allowed to hire NTS Work Permit holders for seven occupations from 1 September 2023, when the first increase of S Pass qualifying salary for renewal applications is implemented. Firms that wish to hire NTS Work Permit holders on the NTS Occupation List will be subject to an NTS sub-dependency ratio ceiling of 8% and a fixed monthly salary criterion of at least S$2,000.
Support measures for employers and employees
To improve support for retirement adequacy, MOM will be raising the Central Provident Fund (“CPF”) monthly salary ceiling from S$6,000 to S$8,000 in 2026 to keep pace with rising salaries. To allow employers and employees to adjust to the changes, this will be done in phases, starting with S$300 in 2023. The annual salary ceiling of S$102,000 remains unchanged.
MOM will enhance support for senior workers by:
- implementing the next step of the planned increase of CPF contribution rates for senior workers from 2024;
- providing a one-year CPF Transition Offset to absorb 50% of the 2024 increase in employer CPF contribution rates for senior workers; and
- extending the Senior Employment Credit and Part-time Re-employment Grant until 2025 to support employers in hiring and retaining senior workers.
MOM also announced that it would uplift lower-wage workers by:
- implementing all recommendations by the Tripartite Workgroup on Lower-Wage Workers by July 2023;
- increasing the Government’s Progressive Wage Credit Scheme co-funding share for wage increases given in 2023;
- lowering the eligibility age for the Workfare Skills Support Scheme from 35 to 30 years old; and
- raising the Training Commitment Award for Full Qualifications from S$500 to S$800.
Measures to enhance protections for platform workers include:
- implementing the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Platform Workers from the second half of 2024;
- permanently increasing Workfare payments for eligible platform workers whose CPF contribution rates are aligned to employees’ from 2028, with a higher proportion to be given in cash (40% compared to 10% today); and
- adapting for platform workers the existing work injury compensation system and representation model for employees.
Measures to secure better workplaces
MOM will also secure better workplaces by:
- introducing legislation to prohibit workplace discrimination;
- enhancing support for flexible work arrangements; and
- enhancing employment support for persons with disabilities and for ex-offenders.
The MOM COS Highlights 2023 are available on the MOM website www.mom.gov.sg.