Singapore: Stricter Employment Pass criteria introduced for non-compliant employers

In order to preserve Singaporean employees in the workforce, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has started considering a company’s foreign-to-local worker ratio in the review of Employment Pass applications. Employers who have a disproportionate number of foreign employees in their workforce compared to industry standards, and who have not shown a commitment to hire and promote local workers, may find it harder to obtain Employment Passes for their foreign employees.


Following the implementation of the mandatory job posting rule in August 2014, the MOM and Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices have recently taken the following steps to further ensure that local workers are fairly considered in the hiring process:

  • Monitoring the ratio of foreign and local workers based on industry averages;
  • Placing companies with a higher number of foreign employees compared to industry standards (as determined by the authorities and government policy) on a watch list and ordering a review of their recruitment strategy; and
  • Requiring employers on the watch list to increase the amount of local workers, particularly at the Professional, Managerial, Executive and Technical (PMET) levels, within six months.

Non-compliant employers that continue to hire foreign workers without considering qualified local candidates may have their initial and/or renewal Employment Pass applications rejected.

What This Means for Employers

Employers in Singapore with foreign workers should work with their immigration professional to ensure that an acceptable foreign-to-local worker ratio is maintained, especially for jobs in the PMET levels.

Stuart Beaty

Celsium, Birmingham, UK