Singapore will implement a new points system for Employment Pass (EP) applicants starting next year. In 2023, Singapore’s EP applicants can also expect higher qualifying salary thresholds. The Singapore Government hopes that the new points system will help local businesses attract high-talent expat professionals and ensure diversity in the workplace. In this Pacific Prime Singapore article, we discuss what we know about the new points system in Singapore so far.
A closer look at the new points systems in Singapore
Singapore’s upcoming points system is part of the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS). Under the COMPASS system, future EP applicants have to score a minimum of 40 points. The points are awarded according to four attributes, as well as two bonus criteria. COMPASS will be effective for new applicants starting September 2023. Similarly, it will come into effect for renewal applicants from September in the following year (2024).
Increasing EP qualifying salaries
As part of Singapore’s 2022 budget, the government announced a rise in the qualifying minimum monthly salaries for the Employment Pass and S Pass permits. For EP applicants, the qualifying salary threshold will increase from the current SGD $4,500 to SGD $5,000. Singapore’s EP permit is issued to expats hired as managers, executives, and skilled professionals in the city-state. Likewise, the minimum salary for EP applicants in the financial sector will also increase by SGD $500, from the current SGD $5,000 to SGD $5,500.
How does Singapore’s COMPASS points system work?
The Complementarity Assessment Framework evaluates Employment Pass applicants according to individual and firm-related attributes. Applications are scored on four foundational criteria, and applicants earn points by meeting or exceeding expectations. The foundational criteria details include salary, qualifications, diversity, and support for local employment. If an applicant meets expectations, they will receive 10 points for each foundational criterion. Likewise, they will receive 20 points for each foundational criterion if they exceed expectations.
On top of that, applicants can earn extra points on two bonus criteria. The first is for candidates in jobs on the short occupation list while the second is for firms that engage in innovation or internationalization activities. To pass COMPASS, the applicant must have at least 40 points.
For more information on the COMPASS scoring system, check out the Ministry of Manpower’s Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) page.
The Ministry of Manpower also offers some case study examples on how Employment Pass applications may be scored according to COMPASS.
Case study one
Firm A meets all four foundational criteria.
The firm is a marketing consultancy in the professional services sector. It has a local PMET (Professionals, managers, executives, and technicians) share at the 40th percentile, which awards them 10 points. Additionally, the candidate’s nationality forms 20% of the firm’s PMET employees, awarding the applicant 10 points.
The candidate is a business manager who holds a bachelor’s degree from a foreign university that is not on a top-tier list, giving them 10 points. Their monthly salary is at the 70th percentile in comparison to local PMET salaries in the sector. Based on the “salary” attribute, the candidate is awarded another 10 points.
As a result, Firm A obtained 40 points in total, making the candidate eligible for the EP permit.
Case study two
Firm B is weak on a foundational criterion. However, they earn points on the bonus criterion.
Firm B is a software company in the Infocomm Technology sector. It has a local PMET share at the 10th percentile. The candidate’s nationality forms 40% of the company’s PMET employees. Consequently, the candidate will not receive any points for either attribute.
The candidate has a monthly salary in the 95th percentile in comparison to local PMET salaries in the sector, awarding them 20 points. The candidate is an AI engineer who holds a master’s degree from a foreign university that is not on the top-tier list, which results in 10 points. While the candidate does not meet the firm-level criteria, they fill a shortage occupation, for which they are awarded 10 points. As a result, they can pass with 40 points in total.
Candidates are exempt from COMPASS if they fulfill any of the following conditions:
- Earn at least SGD $20,000 fixed monthly salary
- Fill a role on a short-term basis (i.e. one month or less)
- Apply as an overseas intra-corporate transferee (ICT) under a free trade agreement in which Singapore is a party or under the World Trade Organization’s General Agreement
Protect yourself with Pacific Prime Singapore
Medical insurance is optional for expats with an EP (unlike Work Permit and S Pass holders), which you can learn more about in our guide to Singapore Work Permits, S Pass, and Employment Pass. Even so, expat health insurance in Singapore ensures you can access quality treatment in the city-state without worrying about paying exorbitant medical fees out of pocket.
With more than two decades of experience in the industry, Pacific Prime Singapore is a health insurance broker and employee benefits specialist that expats around the world know and trust. Whether you’re looking for health insurance for yourself and your family or are curious about employee benefits in Singapore, we are here to help.