The minimum salary for the category of work pass known as “S-Pass” will be raised from $2,400 to $2,500 per month. It had only recently (1 Jan 2020) been raised from $2,300 to $2,400, and before that, from $2,200 to $2,300 a year earlier, on 1 January 2019.

The new minimum of $2,500 will apply to new applicants from 1 October 2020 and to renewal applicants from 1 May 2021.

This was announced by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on 27 August 2020.

Moreover, employers have to advertise the vacancy for 28 days on the portal called that is aimed at local jobseekers before they can apply to hire a foreigner.

This is a new requirement for S-Pass that previously only applied to Employment Pass applications.

MOM also says in its announcement that applications will be assessed differently for older and more experienced S Pass candidates. They will need to be offered higher salaries than the bare minimum stated above.

The same announcement also raises the minimum salary for Employment Pass to $4,500 per month. It was only recently raised to $3,900 three months ago on 1 May 2020. Likewise, older and more experienced candidates are supposed to be paid more.

These changes come at a time when, due to Covid-19, the government is expecting substantially increased retrenchments among local workers.

While low-paid workers in the Work Permit category (below the S-Pass category) tend to do jobs that Singaporeans do not want to do and therefore may not be much affected by competition (but see next paragraph), foreigners in the S-Pass category do jobs that Singaporeans generally would do. In stretched economic circumstances, the government feels it must recalibrate the work pass regime to avoid major unemployment among Singaporeans.

Even some Work Permit jobs may be attractive to locals. These might be in the service or manufacturing sectors, though such jobs are not as numerous as the unattractive-to-Singaporeans construction, cleaning and domestic work sectors. Even so, depending on how deep or prolonged the economic recession is, there may be considerable lay-offs among foreign workers in these sectors.