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Singapore imposes stricter rules for hiring foreign professionals

New salary benchmarks and quota regulations aim to balance local and foreign workforce.

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Singapore will be implementing stricter regulations for hiring foreign professional workers.
EP minimum qualifying salary will rise from SGD 5,500 to SGD 6,200.
Anyone hiring foreign workers must pay their local employees at least the local qualifying salary.

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Singapore will be implementing stricter regulations for hiring foreign professional workers and increasing the salary benchmarks starting from next year.

Effective January 1, 2025, the Ministry of Manpower will raise the minimum qualifying salary for Employment Pass (EP) holders from SGD 5,000 to SGD 5,600 (USD 3,720 to 4,166) per month. This increase will be progressive with age, reaching up to SGD 10,700 for candidates in their mid-40s. The Ministry emphasizes that these adjustments aim to maintain fairness for local workers across all age brackets.

The EP qualifying salary benchmark, which is set at the top one-third of local Professional, Managerial, Executive, and Technical (PMET) wages, ensures that EP holders meet high-quality standards, according to the Ministry.

The objectives include sustaining a high-quality foreign workforce, supporting industry transformation, and creating better job opportunities for locals.

These modifications are part of the Ministry’s broader revisions to foreign workforce policies. The objectives include sustaining a high-quality foreign workforce that complements local talent, supporting industry transformation for a more efficient and lean foreign labour force, creating better job opportunities for locals, and improving conditions for lower-wage workers while ensuring the efficacy of foreign workforce regulations.

For foreign workers in sectors with higher wage standards, such as finance, a higher EP qualifying salary will remain applicable. In the financial services sector, the EP minimum qualifying salary will rise from SGD 5,500 to SGD 6,200 (USD 4,092 to USD 4,613) per month, increasing progressively with age up to SGD 11,800 (USD 8,779) for mid-40s candidates.

Aligning with Singapore’s Progressive Wages initiatives, companies employing foreign workers are mandated to pay all their local workers at least the local qualifying salary (LQS). The proportion of local workers receiving the LQS determines the company’s entitlement to foreign worker quotas. The LQS is regularly reassessed to match wage growth, uplift lower-wage workers, and regulate the foreign workforce. The increase in LQS from SGD 1,400 to SGD 1,600 (USD 1,041 to 1,190) per month, effective July 1, 2024, was initially announced in Singapore’s Budget 2024.

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