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Singapore: Changes in Work Authorization for Dependent’s Pass Holders

March 3, 2021
The Ministry of Manpower (MoM) has revised the work pass framework even further by removing the option of a Letter of Consent (LOC) for the employment of dependents in Singapore. This will take effect on May 1, 2021.

Letter Of Consent

Presently, dependents of Employment Pass and Personalised Employment Pass holders who are seeking employment in Singapore may qualify for a LOC. There is no minimum salary requirement or quota restrictions imposed on the employer. There is also no need to undergo the mandatory labor market testing requirement (as part of the Fair Consideration Framework) before a LOC application is filed.

The LOC, therefore, is an “easier” option for employers who wish to hire dependents in Singapore. LOC makes up a small number of the total work pass holders in Singapore, with only 1% of such pass holders in the workforce in total.

Changes Announced

From May 1, 2021, the LOC will no longer be an option, and employing an existing Dependent’s Pass holder will not differ from that of employing any other foreign national in Singapore.

Employers will have to apply for the relevant work passes (such as Employment Pass, S Pass, or Work Permit) if they choose to hire a dependent’s pass holder. The application will be subject to the applicant meeting the prevailing criteria. Companies are also required to advertise the roles in MyCareersFuture (MCF) before the EP or S Pass applications can be filed.

Existing LOC Holders

Current LOC holders can continue to work for the same company until their existing work authorization expires. Renewals will not be an option after May 1, 2021.

Upon expiration of their LOC, the employing company is required to apply for a regular work pass if they plan to continue employing the employee. It is unclear if the MoM will grant an exemption to the jobs advertisement requirement based on this being a conversion of pass type for an existing employee. The MoM has said more details will be released to the public on May 1 to help companies with existing LOC holders prepare for the next steps following the conclusion of their current work authorization.

The MoM will also address on May 1 if this change affects the employment of those on Pre-Approved Letter of Consent (PLOC). A PLOC is granted to a Long Term Visit Pass holder who is married to a Singapore citizen.

Implications

MoM is currently reviewing and revising the work pass framework, emphasizing fair hiring practices to ensure that all vacancies are filled by candidates based on merit. As the LOC has long been seen as a “shortcut” to employing a foreign national in Singapore, by removing it as an option, they are asking companies to open up all roles to the local market before sourcing for foreign talent.

Erickson Immigration Group will continue to send updates as more news is available. If you have questions about anything we’re reporting above or case-specific questions, please contact your employer or EIG attorney.