Married Spouses of S Pass, Employment Pass, Personalised Employment Pass and ONE Pass Holders are usually accorded the rights as dependent pass holders and work options if they meet the criteria and move to Singapore to live with their spouses. The duration and expiry date of the dependent pass is the same as the main pass holders.
Spouses on dependent passes form a substantial number of untapped talents in Singapore particularly in a tight labour market. Many if not most are highly qualified and skilled in their own areas of expertise. Some have decided to give up their thriving careers back home at least temporarily to relocate to Singapore to be with their spouses who are transferred or opted to work in Singapore. Those with children may take the opportunity to be full time care givers for their children. Others without children may also want to continue to pursue their interest and careers in Singapore. However, their unique skills set may not necessarily be in demand in Singapore. Many are willing to settle for a lesser role or junior role to find meaningful work to make full use of their time in Singapore.
The rules governing whether spouses of Employment Pass holders should be allowed to work and whether any criteria should be applied to them have been subjected to much debate by law makers and changes over the years.
Many have argued that being new, the willingness of dependent pass holders’ to take jobs at junior or lesser demanding roles has created a situation of unfair competition for jobs and takes away employment opportunities for locals.
Therefore, the rules have been fine tuned in recent times to remove the letter of consent option for the spouses of S Pass, Employment Pass and PEP holders. Instead, they would now be allowed to work for employers on work permit visa which is subject to monthly levies and applicable quota for employers. The monthly levies payable by employers can be as high as SGD800.00 per month. The monthly levies payable to the government act as counterbalance to the monthly pension fund (CPF) contributions which employers need to pay for each local employee. The current rate for employer’s CPF contribution is 17% of gross salary or upto a maximum of SGD1,020.00 per month. With levy cost, the total wage cost difference to the employer would be equalised whether the employee is a local or work permit holder.
The dependent pass holders of ONE Employment Pass are exempted from the above rule as they can apply for a Letter of Consent to work which does not attract any levy and have any quota requirements imposed on the employers.
Business Ownership Option
Dependent Pass holders can also choose to be business owners and work for themselves. For this option, they can form a sole proprietorship or incorporate a company with at least 30% shareholding in their names. As business owners, dependent pass holders are eligible to apply for a Letter of Consent to work as directors of their own companies or businesses. However, in order to renew the Letter of Consent to work, dependent pass holders need to hire a local employee after an initial one-year period. This means that the business needs to pay a salary of at least SGD1,400.00 to a local employee and make an equivalent employer’s CPF or pension fund contribution of 17% of the minimum salary or SGD238.00 per month. So, the minimum total local employee wage cost is SGD1,638.00 per month.
This option may be attractive to dependent pass holders who want flexibility with their work schedule due to family commitments or those pursuing business opportunities.
In summary, there are now more work options for dependent pass holders in Singapore. Dependent Pass holders can now meaningfully contribute their skills and talent to the Singapore economy either by working for employers or running their own businesses. Those who choose to work in Singapore will alleviate the manpower shortage without causing undue unfair competition to locals. For those running their own businesses, they add to the business ecosystem and vibrancy in Singapore. They create employment opportunities too for locals as they are required to hire at least one local employee if they wish to continue operating their business beyond one year.
Source: Singapore Ministry of Manpower