Ministry of Manpower tightens employment pass application

Employers hiring overseas employees urged to go through the normal process.

Employers taking advantage of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) of the World Trade Organisation or an applicable Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to claim an employment pass for an overseas intra-corporate transferee (ICT) may have to go through the normal route as the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has tightened employment pass (EP) application.

EP allows foreign professionals, managers, and executives to work in Singapore. Candidates need to earn at least $4,500 a month and have acceptable qualifications set by the MOM.

According to the Fair Consideration Framework, all employers in Singapore must consider candidates fairly for job opportunities by advertising on MyCareersFuture.gov.sg website; an exception to this are ICTs who fall under GATS or FTA.

With the new conditions, ICTs may no longer bring their families into Singapore under the Dependant’s Passes or Long-Term Visit Passes, except where they are specifically covered by an applicable FTA and meet the prevailing criteria for consideration.

The candidate is also required to only work in Singapore on a temporary basis, for a period strictly limited to the provision under the applicable FTA and is not eligible for future employment or for permanent residency in Singapore upon the expiry or termination of the employee's work pass.

Law firm Baker & McKenzie suggested that if candidates are expected to be transferred to Singapore from an overseas entity on a permanent basis and/or to be joined by their family in Singapore, the employer should consider applying for the EP via the job advertising route, or by relying on other applicable ground for exemption from the job advertising requirement.

Aside from applicable FTA, other exceptions for the job advertising requirement are the following: if the company has fewer than 10 employees; the vacancy has a fixed monthly salary of $20,000 and above; and that the vacancy is only for short term such as not more than one month.

Baker & McKenzie has observed that the tightening of the regulation for EP application via the ICT-route reinforces MOM’s goal in the eventual building of a Singapore core among employers. They see this change will lead to more employers being less inclined to apply for EPs via the ICT-route and instead go through normal processing via advertising on MyCareersFuture.sg.

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