As part of the MOM’s measures to raise the quality and productivity of the foreign workforce in Singapore, the MOM has proposed several changes to the rules relating to Work Permits (the category of work pass generally required for labourers and domestic workers) that will allow employers to retain better skilled and experienced Work Permit holders over a longer time period. The following changes are proposed to be made:

(a) From 1 May 2014, the MOM will increase the maximum period of employment for ‘Higher Skilled’ (R1) Work Permit holders from Non-Traditional Sources and the People’s Republic of China in the Construction, Marine and Process sectors from 18 years to 22 years. Non-Traditional Sources include Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Work Permit holders from Malaysia and North Asian Sources, such as Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, can continue to work in Singapore up to 60 years of age.

(b) From 1 August 2014, the new Market Based Skills Recognition Framework will come to effect which will allow ‘Basic Skilled’ (R2) Work Permit holders in the Construction sector to upgrade to R1 status if they (i) have at least 6 years’ construction experience in Singapore and (ii) earn a fixed monthly salary of more than S$1600, even though they have not obtained the Core Trade or Multi-Skilling Certification from the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore. Following the upgrade, employers will enjoy the lower levy rate for R1 Work Permit holders and longer maximum period of employment for R1 Work Permit holders of 22 years, as opposed to 10 years for R2 Work Permit holders.

(c) From 1 July 2016, the foreign worker levy rate for R2 Man-Year Entitlement Work Permit holders in the Construction sector will be increased from S$600 to S$700.  Levies for R1 Work Permit holders will remain unchanged to encourage employers to employ higher skilled Work Permit holders.