Foreign Workers Work Permit

Measures to moderate demand for foreign manpower in effect from 1 July 2013

From 1 July 2013, the following changes will apply to all sectors:
Increase in qualifying salaries for S Passes from $2,000 to $2,200

Progressive increase in levy rates for S Pass and Work Permit holders
Change in monthly salary threshold from $850 to $1,000 for locals to be considered full-time employees

More measures levied on services sector include the Market-Based Skills Framework (MBSF), Job Flexibility Scheme (JFS) and reduced Dependency Ratio Ceiling (DRC) and S Passes sub-DRC. There will also be a further 15% cut in the Man-Year Entitlement (MYE) and implementation of the Tender Price Index (TPI)-adjusted MYE formula for the construction sector.

For more information, please refer to our press release and PDFFAQs.


Who should apply for a Work Permit

The Work Permit (WP) is for foreigners who:

    • Want to work in Singapore; and
    • Are from an approved source country/territory (depending on the sector which the worker is going to be employed in).

A prospective employer must first apply to the Controller of Work Passes for a WP before employing a Foreign Worker. Prior to that, business employers who have never applied for WP or S Passes before are required to declare their business activity.

There are rules and regulations which WP holders and employers have to follow. You can read these rules under the Conditions of Work Permits.

Malaysian workers
An employer who wishes to employ a Malaysian who already holds a valid WP in Singapore must apply for a separate WP:

    • Upon approval, the new employer will be issued an In-Principle Approval (IPA) letter stating when the new WP should be collected; and
    • The existing employer must cancel the worker’s existing WP on or before the scheduled date of collection.

Workers from North Asian Sources/Non-Traditional Source/People’s Republic of China:
Non-Malaysian WP holders generally fall into one of these three source country/territory groupings:

    1. North Asian Sources (NAS) – Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea and Taiwan
    2. Non-Traditional Sources (NTS) – India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bangladesh, The Republic of the Union of Myanmar and Philippines
    3. People’s Republic of China (PRC)

Foreign Workers from NAS/NTS/PRC cannot be in Singapore when their WP applications are being submitted.

Employers can only bring these workers in after:

    • Obtaining the In-Principle Approval; and
    • Furnishing a security bond of $5,000 per worker.

Security deposits can be made in the form of a Banker’s Guarantee or Insurance Guarantee payable to the Controller of Work Passes.

What is the age criteria to apply for a Work Permit

Under the Employment Act, the minimum age for an employee is set at 16 years old. This condition is applicable to both local and Foreign Workers. For the purpose of Work Permit application, Malaysians must be below 58 years old while non-Malaysians must be below 50 years old at the time of the application.

Employer requirements

When you employ a Foreign Worker in Singapore, it is your responsibility to:

    • Pay the Foreign Worker Levy;
    • Arrange for the Foreign Worker’s medical examinations as required by the Controller of Work Passes;
    • Pay the medical care and hospitalisation expenses;
      • Employers of Foreign Workers are required to purchase and maintain medical insurance for their workers.
      • For medical insurance policies taken up or renewed on/or after 1 January 2010, the insurance coverage must be at least $15,000 per year for each worker’s inpatient care and day surgery during his/her stay in Singapore.
    • Satisfy the basic terms and conditions of employment as stipulated in the Employment Act;
    • Ensure that the Foreign Worker does not engage in any form of:
      • Employment other than that stated in the WP; or
      • Freelance arrangement or self-employment.
    • Resolve all employment-related disputes with the Foreign Worker amicably;
    • Provide Work Injury Compensation Insurance to the Foreign Worker as required;
    • Send the Foreign Worker for the Safety Orientation Course (construction industry only);
    • Provide upkeep, maintenance and eventual repatriation of the Foreign Worker;
    • Ensuring the provision of acceptable housing and updating of Foreign Workers addresses within five days of commencement of employment and subsequent changes in their addresses.

If the Foreign Worker is not a Malaysian, you are also responsible for:

    • Furnishing up a $5,000 security bond in the form of an insurance/banker’s guarantee prior to his/her arrival in Singapore, failing which entry into Singapore will not be allowed.As the security bond is signed between the employer and the Government, the Foreign Worker is not required to pay the security deposit.The Security Bond Form Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (Chapter 91A) must be signed by the Partner/Sole Proprietor. For Private Limited Companies, it must be signed by a member on the Board of Directors/General Manager. The signatory’s name must appear in the ACRA printout. If signed by any other persons than the above, an authorisation letter from a member on the Board of Directors will be required.

In addition, you should ensure that the Foreign Worker’s welfare and interests are well looked after.

These include non-statutory requirements such as:

    • Proper orientation
    • Providing for the Foreign Worker’s social and recreational needs.

Specific variants of Work Permits allow foreigners to work as domestic helpers, confinement nannies and performing artistes.

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