IHRP Statement – Tightening of Work Pass Requirements

IHRP Statement – TIghtening of Work Pass Requirements

The Ministry of Manpower announced last week a tightening of Work Pass requirements. The minimum qualifying salary for EP was raised to $4,500 from 1 September 2020 for all new applicants. For the first time, the Finance sector will have a higher minimum – $5,000. Correspondingly, the minimum qualifying salary for S Pass will be raised to $2,500 from 1 October 2020.

These measures should not come as a surprise, as this latest announcement is one of several moves in the past year to recalibrate our foreign workforce policies. This is also a measured move as the government cannot in this economic climate fully ignore impact of sudden/significant tightening on business costs.

Striking a balance between local and foreign
HR professionals play an important role to steer their organisation’s talent attraction and development policies. Technology and Industry 4.0 transformation are driving massive changes at the workplace. A changing global order offers both risks and opportunities for Singapore’s status as a global hub and our longer-term economic prospects. Therefore, our ability to attract talent from around the world to complement the local workforce will remain an important source of competitive advantage. Singapore cannot be seen as closed to foreigners. At the same time, increasing workforce expectations for fairness, equity and social justice put the spotlight on doing business responsibly. As HR professionals know only too well, today’s workforce increasingly holds employers accountable for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) outcomes.

HR plays a critical role to support companies and workers
Our professionals play a key role to support their organisations through strategic workforce planning to prepare for future jobs and skills, design and redesign good jobs, re-skilling workers to enable industry transformation and adapt to an older workforce and ensure that fair consideration is consistently applied in hiring decisions. In this context, IHRP is committed to support HR professionals in strengthening capabilities necessary to tackle these challenges.

Two other changes were also announced – Increase in Fair Consideration Framework minimum job advertising duration for EP applications from 14 days to 28 days with effect from 1 Oct 2020 and the requirement for employers to advertise on MyCareersFuture.sg for at least 28 days before submitting S Pass applications.

With these changes, it is even more important that companies’ hiring practices assess candidates fairly in terms of what they bring to the table, and all else being equal, prioritise strengthening the Singaporean core in their companies. Taken together with extension of JSS and new Job Growth Incentive, it is a strong package of support for companies to hire locals, and to help local job seekers secure meaningful work.

Not only will a stronger Singaporean core help to increase the resilience of the company during this period, such as in the event of major travel disruptions, it would also help sustain a more business-friendly approach to work pass policies.

In summary, HR has a key role to play here:

  • Ensure fair hiring
  • Find opportunities to redesign jobs/put in place training to allow their organisation to tap on a wider pool of local job seekers/retain a wider range of existing staff
  • Work closely with senior management to groom/develop locals, including for top positions.

Finally, IHRP will work together with tripartite partners – SNEF, NTUC and MOM to advocate progressive policies at work to support the speed and urgency of business transformation that is required in this new normal.

-Mayank Parekh, CEO IHRP


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