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Update: Base salary of Employment Pass to be raised to S$3,600 from Jan 1; NTUC lauds move

THE qualifying salary for Employment Pass (EP) applications will be raised to S$3,600 from S$3,300 with effect from Jan 1, 2017, Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) unveiled on Tuesday.

The ministry said the change is part of its regular updating of the EP qualifying salary to keep pace with rising local wages, maintain the quality of foreign workforce and enhance their complementarity to the local workforce.

The previous minimum EP qualifying salary update was in January 2014, when the minimum was revised to S$3,300 from S$3,000.

MOM said its manpower policy framework is "designed to meet the manpower needs of the economy, so that businesses can stay competitive and grow, and ultimately create more and better jobs in Singapore".

From next year, only new EP applicants who can command a monthly salary of S$3,600 or more, subject to meeting other criteria on qualifications and experience, will be considered.

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Those with more years of experience are also required to command higher salaries commensurate with their work experience and skill sets, as per the current practice.

Following the announcement, NTUC assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay lauded the move on his Facebook page.

"This is a positive move to keep up with the rising median wages of professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) and also ensure the quality of the foreign workforce, which is a complementary force, is maintained," Mr Tay wrote.

He said the move, together with the series of other measures such as the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF), jobs bank as well as the tightening and scrutiny of conditions and criteria for EP, will help level the playing field for local PMEs and also build a stronger Singaporean core.

The FCF is part of the government's effort to strengthen the Singaporean core in the workforce. It sets out clear expectations for companies to consider Singaporeans fairly for job opportunities. This includes advertising in the jobs bank.

Mr Tay said it is important for MOM to be watchful of companies and employers who might artificially blow up the wages of foreign PMEs to meet the new criteria.

"Bottomline is that local PMEs should be better off and not worse off," he cautioned.

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