Foreigners now need $3600 to qualify for an Employment Pass – so what?


The qualifying salary for an employment pass had been bumped up to $3600 from $3300. In 2014 the qualifying sum was $3000. This shows that the MoM is making it harder to get an Employment Pass and it doesn’t look like it would stop.

The Minister of Manpower, Lim Swee Say had frequently told the press that these labour restrictions and tightening are not going to relax anytime soon.

It is a small sum to increase – $300. Would it affect you? Well, it depends on who you are really – so let’s look at the possible groups that may be impacted:

1.) Labour intensive businesses

Retail outlets, F&B businesses and some construction businesses are very labour intensive. But because they’re so labour intensive, chances are they will be hiring workers on a lower salary scale that won’t require an EP.



2.) Non-labour intensive, high value businesses

Now these are the groups that may be affected. Graphic designers, account managers, accountant…you name it. Because the median wage for Singaporeans is about $3500, a large portion of our workforce falls within this range. Ask any employer and chances are he’ll tell you that he would much rather hire a Singaporean…except that very few qualified and suitable ones are available. Hence the need to hire foreign.

With the EP qualifying salary going higher, employers are going to realise that either they make-do with whoever they have, or they change their line of business.

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3.) Graduates

Graduates are a vulnerable group. Fresh graduates are paid between $2800 to $3200. Their direct competitor is the EP holder. If the qualifying wage for the EP holder were not pushed upwards, employers would rather hire the EP holder because these fellas would come with experience and contribute an international perspective.

The bumping up of the salary base directly protects our local graduates.


4.) Everyone else

If you’re already employed, it’s not going to affect you much. It’s a tight labour market and employers are already finding it very difficult to hire manpower. With each new policy, it gets tighter and tighter. One might even suspect that the government is trying to wipeout some industries that add little value to the economy and are hogging manpower.

If you’re unemployed and have been for a while, perhaps you might want to reflect on why this is so. Employers are finding it difficult to hire and they still won’t hire you – then perhaps you might need to look at what went wrong? Chances are it is either attitudes, skills or an ability to work with people.

The usefulness of foreigners
Here’s one group of people who will be benefiting from foreign talents and workers…

Image Credits: Todayonline, Today.

About the author

Tay Leong Tan

Tay Leong Tan is a collective of 3 writers. Tay, Leong and Tan. (Who were you expecting?!) We are enthusiastic about labour issues, economics and current affairs in particular.

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