The new changes to the Singapore Employment Pass application include implementing the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) starting September 1, 2023, for new applications and September 1, 2024, for renewals.
The first stage is to meet the qualifying salary, and the second is to pass a points-based assessment. COMPASS will assess every employment pass application based on a holistic set of individual and firm-related attributes, focusing on enabling employers to select high-quality foreign professionals while improving workforce diversity and building a strong local core.
How COMPASS works
The framework evaluates EP applications based on four foundational and two bonus criteria, which recognise applications that bring in skills in shortage or support strategic economic priorities. To pass the COMPASS scoring system, EP applicants are required to score at least 40 points. The four foundational criteria are salary, qualification, diversity (firm-related), and support for local employment (firm-related). The bonus criteria considered in the COMPASS scoring system are skills and strategic economic priorities.
Under the COMPASS, an EP candidate will be evaluated based on these foundational criteria:
This criterion focuses on whether a company pays its employees a qualifying salary. Companies are expected to meet or exceed their jurisdictions' minimum monthly salary requirements. This criterion also considers the cost of living in the area where the company is located to ensure that employees can maintain a reasonable standard of living. Companies that fail to provide a fair wage may be seen as exploiting their employees and contributing to regional inequality.
This criterion assesses whether a company promotes diversity and inclusivity in its workforce and has policies to prevent discrimination and harassment. Companies that value diversity and ensure that all employees feel valued and respected will likely have a more engaged and productive workforce. This criterion also considers whether a company has a diverse leadership team, which can positively impact decision-making and business performance.
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Support for local employment (firm-related)
This criterion assesses whether a company prioritises hiring and training local employees, particularly in areas where unemployment rates are high. By providing employment opportunities to people in the local community, companies can help to reduce poverty and contribute to economic development in the region. Companies committed to supporting local employment will likely positively impact the local economy and be considered good corporate citizens.
The two bonus criteria for COMPASS are:
Skills Bonus (Individual)
This bonus criterion rewards companies that invest in the skills development of their employees through training programs, apprenticeships, or other initiatives. Companies committed to upskilling and reskilling their workforce will receive extra points in this category.
This bonus criterion rewards companies that contribute to the economic development priorities of the jurisdiction where they operate. For example, suppose a company operates in a region where the government prioritises the development of a particular sector, such as renewable energy or technology. In that case, the company will receive extra points if it contributes to that priority through its operations or investments.
Following is an overview of the scoring for the COMPASS assessment criteria:
To qualify for employment passes, EP applicants must score minimum points in the COMPASS assessment. The minimum eligibility criteria will be higher for applicants in sectors with a higher concentration of foreign professionals.
The minimum number of points required for EP eligibility may vary depending on the sector or industry in which the applicant seeks employment. The minimum qualifying criteria will be higher for sectors with a higher concentration of foreign manpower.
To emphasise the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), EP applicants must achieve a minimum of 40 points on the COMPASS assessment to be eligible for an EP. However, this minimum score is flexible and may be adjusted based on sectoral requirements.
In addition, the minimum salary requirements for EP applications will also be raised for new applicants and renewals. The salary criteria will vary based on the applicant's qualifications and experience, with higher salaries required for younger and less experienced applicants.