New Employment Pass Eligibility Criteria – Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS)


With effect from 1 September 2023, all employers intending to hire foreigners on Employment Pass in Singapore are required to meet the new qualification known as Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) to assess the employment pass eligibility of foreigners for the Singapore Employment Pass.

The key purpose of this new employment pass eligibility assessment framework is to enable employers to select and hire high-quality foreign professionals to work in Singapore while improving the workforce diversity and maintaining a strong Singaporean core.

Under the new employment pass eligibility framework, all Singapore Employment Pass applications will be assessed on four foundational criteria, namely Salary, Qualifications, Diversity and Support for Local Employment. Further to the four foundational criteria, there are two bonus criteria that recognise applications bringing in skills that are not readily available in Singapore and support strategic economic priorities, which create jobs for Singaporeans.

To qualify for EP, the candidate must score 40 points from the four foundational criteria, or by scoring points under the bonus criteria. There are concessions for start-ups and small firms with less than 25 employees to meet the 40 points requirements.

Renewal applications are exempted from COMPASS for 1 year from 1 September 2023 but will be subjected to the same assessment framework from 1 September 2024.

The following are a summary of the key criteria/ factors that will affect the scoring under COMPASS.

Salary:

All applicants must meet the EP qualifying salary. For a similar job role and age, the salary differences may vary according to industries. For example, the salary requirements for jobs in the banking and finance sector is higher compared to other business sectors. To gain points under the salary criteria, candidates will be benchmarks against salaries for local PMET salary in the same industries taking into account age factor.

Qualifications:

MOM has also provided a list of renown universities and foreign institutions that which would be automatically gain between 10 to 20 points under this category. For candidates with qualifications outside the list provided, employers would be responsible to arrange for verification of the qualifications by engaging approved third-party accreditation agencies. These agencies must be from the list approved by MOM.

Applicants without degree equivalent qualification can qualify for EP by gaining points through our criteria. The assessment framework recognises that not all successful entrepreneurs and talent must have gone through formal tertiary education.

Diversity:

The COMPASS framework encourages firm to have a diverse mix of nationalities so it enriches firms with new ideas and networks, and contributes to a more inclusive and resilient workforce.

Points are awarded to applications where the candidate’s nationality forms a small share of the company’s PMET employees.

As it’s not easy for firms with small number of headcount in Singapore to comply, a default score of 10 points will be awarded for firms with less than 25 employees.

Support for Local Employment:

COMPASS recognises firms that make efforts to create opportunities for the local workforce and build complementary teams comprising both local and foreign professionals.

Points are awarded to firms with a high share of locals, among PMET, compared to other firms within the same business sector. If a firm’s local PMET share is at least 70% (pegged to the 20th percentile of firms economy-wide), the application will earn at least 10 points. This is regardless of where the firm stands within its subsector. In this way, the MOM does not penalise firms in subsectors which have a relatively high share of local PMET employees. PMET is defined as local employees earning at least SGD3,000.00 per month.

Skills Bonus (Shortage Occupation List):

The COMPASS framework recognises that there are a number of occupations and specialised skills that are short in Singapore. Information technology with niche expertise such as cyber security and health care professionals such para-medical skills are well known examples of such occupations. Others include professionals in agritech, fintech, green economy etc.

The Shortage Occupation List (SOL) has been developed and published to guide employers on what occupation list can qualify for additional bonus points.

Strategic Economic Priorities Bonus:

Companies that are undertaking ambitious innovation, internationalisation activities or strategic economic projects in partnership with the government economic agencies are also recognised and will be provided additional bonus points.

In order to qualify for this additional bonus points, companies must engage, participate and meet assessment criteria in selected programmes run by various economic agencies. Typically, these programmes and support would require companies to show commitment to developing the local workforce or ecosystem.

Exemption from COMPASS (Complementarity Assessment Framework)

A candidate’s EP application is exempted from COMPASS if they fulfil any of these conditions:

Earning at least SGD20,000 fixed monthly salary (similar to the prevailing Fair Consideration Framework job advertising exemption).

Applying as an overseas intra-corporate transferee under the World Trade Organisation’s General Agreement on Trade in Services or an applicable Free Trade Agreement that Singapore is party to.

OR

Filling a role on a short-term basis, i.e. one month or less.