Singapore Increases Minimum Qualifying Salaries for Expats

Singapore CBD | Image Credit: Wikipedia
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You don’t just need a lofty salary to have a good standard of living in Singapore – as a foreign professional, you’ll need it to get an employment pass at all.

Malaysia sets minimum salaries for its various categories of expat employment passes (as just one of the requirements), but down in Singapore, it’s a different ballgame altogether.

The Ministry of Manpower in Singapore recently announced some rather significant adjustments to its policies concerning foreign workers, impacting both white-collar foreign professionals and, to a lesser extent, their local counterparts, as well. Singaporean workers will also see a rise in their own minimum wage if they work at a company which also employs foreign staff.

For foreign professionals, the changes are in the minimum salaries required to qualify for an Employment Pass.

The Employment Pass is a permit that allows foreign professionals, managers, and executives to work in Singapore. The qualifying salary for this pass is determined by referencing the top one-third of local PMET (Professionals, Managers, Executives, and Technicians) wages, ensuring that EP holders meet high standards. This benchmark is subject to annual review.

One notable change for professional expatriates involves the Employment Pass (EP) minimum qualifying salary, which is set to increase from $5,000 to $5,600 per month. Not only is this a 12% hike in the lowest possible salary an expat can earn, this adjustment is part of a progressive scale based on the expat’s age, rising to $10,700 monthly for individuals in their mid-40s. The intention behind this move is to maintain equitable conditions for local workers across different age demographics.

For the Financial Services sector, which typically offers higher wages, an elevated EP-qualifying salary will persist. Specifically, the EP minimum qualifying salary for this sector will rise from $5,500 to $6,200 per month, scaling up to $11,800 for individuals in their mid-40s.

These revised qualifying salaries will be applicable to new EP applications starting from January 1, 2025 and renewal applications from January 1, 2026.

Furthermore, the Singaporean government is increasing the local qualifying salary (LQS) threshold. Firms employing foreign workers are mandated to remunerate all local employees at least the LQS. Effective from July 1, 2024, the LQS will be raised from $1,400 to $1,600 per month for full-time local workers, or at least $10.50 per hour for part-time local workers.

Information from Singapore Ministry of Manpower and Financial Express contributed to this report. All figures noted are in Singapore Dollars.

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