Bad news for firms looking to hire foreign workers next year. Starting 1 January 2017, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will be raising the qualifying salary for Employment Pass (EP) applications from $3,300 to $3,600.

According to a press release by the MOM, this change comes as part of the regular EP qualifying salary update to keep pace with increasing local wages. This is with the view of maintaining the quality of the foreign workforce and enhancing how well it complements the local workforce.

With effect from next year, MOM will only consider new EP applicants who can command a monthly salary of $3,600 or more in addition to meeting other criteria on qualifications and experience.

"Those with more years of experience are also required to command higher salaries commensurate with their work experience and skill sets, as per current practice," the press release stated.

Lead time will be provided by MOM for businesses to make the necessary adjustments.

Bosses employing existing EP holders have to take note that current EP holders whose passes expire:

Before 1 January 2017 Will be able to renew, for a duration of up to three years, based on existing EP criteria.

Between 1 January 2017 and 30 June 2017 (both dates inclusive) Will be able to renew, for a duration of one year, based on the existing EP criteria.

1 July 2017 onwards Will have to meet the new criteria for renewal, for a duration of up to three years.

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To aid employers in assessing if their EP candidates will meet the new salary criteria, MOM is encouraging bossess to use the Self-Assessment Tool (SAT) on the MOM website - the SAT will be updated with the new criteria by Nov 2016.

The most previous update of minimum EP qualifying salary was in January 2014, where the qualifying salary was raised from $3,000 to $3,300.

"MOM’s manpower policy framework is designed to meet the manpower needs of the economy, so that businesses can stay competitive and grow, and ultimately create more and better jobs in Singapore," the press release stated.

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