Singapore, a fast-growing free economy, is one of the few countries on the cutting edge of technological advancement and innovation. The country’s enviable progress is why it attracts global talents, whether they are professionals, artisans, or even rising talents.
However, the government operates on a “Quota and Levy system”, which enables it to limit the number of foreign workers its local companies can engage. The quota has different structural levels known as tiers, which determine the amount of levy an employer pays for its foreign workers.
Like in other advanced countries, some structures and regulations control how foreigners work in Singapore. Chief among these is the requirement for a Work Pass for non-citizen employees. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is the Singapore government agency responsible for Work Pass-related matters, and their two better-known Work Passes are the Employment Pass (EP) and Skilled Pass (S Pass).
Difference Between Employment Pass (EP) and S Pass
- Minimum salary requirements of the recipients.
- Qualifications & skill level of the pass holder.
- The quota and levy system.
- Validity and renewal.
- Medical Insurance.
Based on the above parameters, here are the differences between these two Singapore work permits:
Minimum Salary Requirements
To qualify for an E Pass, applicants must get a job offer with a minimum of SGD4,500 monthly in Singapore. If they are older and with more experience and qualifications, the SGD4,500 monthly payment will be inadequate. They must look for something better.
For younger S Pass applicants, the minimum salary to qualify is SGD 2,500. And like the EP requirements, they will also need a job paying more than this amount if they are older and more experienced.
From time to time the government keeps reviewing and amending the salary requirements to maintain the quality of the foreign workforce in Singapore. Visit MOM’s website for the latest salary range for Employment Pass (EP) and S Pass.
Only highly skilled professionals in specialised, managerial, or executive positions can apply for Singapore’s Employment Pass. On the contrary, S Pass applicants can be technicians or artisans with only basic skill sets. In addition, EP applicants must possess a university degree and relevant professional certificates before securing a top-ranking job in the country.
To qualify for the Employment Pass, the candidate must have a verified job offer in Singapore. However, an existing job offer is not an explicitly stated requirement for an S Pass.
Quota & Levy System
As stated earlier, this system enables the Singapore government to limit the number of foreign workers a company can engage. The company’s declared business activity determines the relevant quota, though this applies strictly to S Pass holders. On the other hand, there is no quota for EP holders.
The highest number of S Pass holders a Singapore-based company can lawfully hire is 10% of the company’s entire workforce for those in the service sector and 18% for those in the CMP (construction, marine Shipyard and process) sectors. Therefore, if a company exceeds its quota, it will need to either increase its local workforce or reduce its number of foreign workers.
Companies that employ Employment Pass (EP) and S Pass holders have two kinds of levies to pay – the Foreign Worker Levy (FWL) and Skills Development Levy (SDL). Companies will only have to pay the SDL for their EP workers, while both FWL and SDL are compulsory for companies with S Pass employees.
For SDL, the fee is 0.25% of their first SGD4,500 payment or SGD2, depending on which is higher. Suppose an S Pass holder gets a job in the services sector. In that case, the fee is according to the table below:
|Sector||Tiers||% of the total workforce||Monthly Payment (SGD)||Daily Payment (SGD)|
|Services||1||Up to 10||330||10.85|
|Manufacturing||1||Up to 10||330||10.35|
|2||10 – 18||650||21.37|
|Others||1||Up to 10||330||10.85|
|2||10 – 20||650||21.37|
Validity and Renewal
The Employment Pass (EP) and S Pass are both valid for two years for first-timers. Other pass holders need only renew these passes once in three years. Application for renewal of all passes should be submitted six months before expiration.
The renewal cost for an S Pass is SGD100, while for an EP, it is SGD225. For both types of passes, employers can avoid penalties and the stress of applying for a fresh pass by completing a renewal before the current pass expires.
Also, a renewed pass won’t start becoming valid until the current pass expires. So, if it is granted six months before the current pass expiration, the validity period only starts from the first day after the previous one expires.
Full medical insurance is a mandatory provision for S Pass holders. This insurance must offer coverage of at least SGD15,000 per year and cover inpatient care and day surgery. Without this, getting approved for pass applications and renewals will be impossible.
However, providing comprehensive medical insurance is not mandatory for EP applications and renewals. The company and its employees can make special arrangements as the need arises.
Application Process For Employers
Employers must first advertise any vacant position in their companies for at least three months. If there are no locally qualified applicants for the job after this period expires, they can submit an EP or S Pass application to enable them to bring in foreign talent to fill the post.
The Ministry of Manpower does not guarantee the success of any application or renewal. However, employers can avoid certain pitfalls by consulting with an approved agent. Such agents can pre-determine the strength of your application and advise accordingly.
Singapore is doing everything to promote the employment of its citizens before it considers bringing in foreigners. Of course, this is the proper thing for any nation to do. However, there are times when the hiring of foreign talents is inevitable. That is why the Employment Pass (EP) and S Pass exist.
From this article, you can see that while both are work permits, they differ in requirements. The only similarity is that the employers apply on behalf of the applicants in both cases. And with both cases, you can simply seek help to apply as there is no guarantee that the passes will be approved or renewed. There could be many reasons why the passes are rejected, and to reduce the chances of rejection; you should take the help of professionals to manage the work permit process for you.