SALARY EMPLOYMENT LAW
Singapore - The qualifying salaries for professionals and skilled workers applying for Singapore's Employment Pass or S Pass will increase by as much as S$1,000 from 1 July.
According to Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong, the increase brought on by the improving job profile of Singaporeans will encourage companies to hire more qualified foreigners.
Gan said salaries for local professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) have been rising in recent years. Thus, raising the qualifying salary threshold for foreign talent would make Singaporeans more competitive. He added that this would make companies more selective in hiring foreign talent.
People who hold employment passes are mostly degree holders working in professional, managerial or specialist jobs. They are categorised into P1, P2 and Q1 groups.
The P1 category will have a new qualifying salary of S$8,000 from S$7,000, P2 is S$4,000 from S$3,500 and Q1 will increase from $2,500 to S$2,800. This is the first revision in 10 years since pass holders' qualifying salaries increased by S$500 to S$2,500.
S-Pass, which was introduced in 2004 for mid-level skilled workers such as technicians and retail executives, will have their minimum wages raised by S$200 to S$2,000.
The number of Employment Pass holders jumped by more than 20% in the last year, from 115,000 in 2009 to 142,000. The number for S-Pass holders leaped from 82,000 to 98,000 in the same period.
Employers who have existing Employment Pass and S-Pass holders will be given a one-time renewal of up to two years, following which they will have to meet the new criteria.
To allocate the number of foreign workers accordingly, a local, who is considered as a part-timer, will have to earn S$850 from 1 July onwards, a jump from S$650. This will ensure that locals are not hired on token salaries to meet the quota requirement for hiring foreign workers.
Lawrence Leow, president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, said the change could boost the local workforce's salaries as companies adjust the pay of their existing staff.
Leow said if he hires a foreigner for the same salary as a local employee who has worked for two years, it's only right to raise their pay to reflect their experience.
While Gan said the government will continue to favour locals PMETs, it will not close the door on foreign talent. "Foreign talent continues to be critical for our growth and these talents will help grow the economic pie."
Gan added, "Otherwise, we will lose our attractiveness as an investment destination and we will not be able to create good jobs for locals."
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