Employment Pass Changes COMPASS framework MOM Singapore

Employment Pass Applicants Face New Scoring System from September 2023

On March 4th 2022, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng introduced the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) for Employment Pass applicants which will take effect from September 2023.

What is COMPASS for Employment Pass?

“COMPASS is a points-based system that considers both individual and firm-related attributes to holistically evaluate an Employment Pass (EP) applicant’s complementarity,” he said. “It is designed to be a transparent system, so that businesses have clarity and predictability for manpower planning.”

These changes are aimed at ensuring the calibre of EP holders are comparable to the top one-third of local PMETs (professional, manager, executive and technician) in terms of salary and qualifications in their respective sectors. COMPASS will strengthen the Singaporean core of the workforce, complemented by a high-quality and diverse foreign workforce.

What’s New for Employment Pass Applicants?

Under the new eligibility criteria starting September 2023, the minimum qualifying salary for EP holders in the financial services sector will be raised from SGD 5,000 to SGD 5,500. The minimum qualifying salary will increase from SGD 4,500 to SGD 5,000 in all other sectors. MOM will adjust the salary criteria periodically to keep pace with rising wages in Singapore.

For renewals, COMPASS will apply from September 2024. COMPASS scheme comes on top of earlier announced changes to the EP eligibility criteria.

Under the new framework, all EP applications will undergo 2 stages. First, applicants need to meet the qualifying salary. Second, they must score at least 40 points under COMPASS which evaluates each EP application.

COMPASS Framework

COMPASS framework evaluates each EP application based on the following four “foundational” criteria that ensure the candidate’s complementarity with Singapore workers. 

  1. Salary – fixed monthly salary compared to local PMET salaries in sector by age
  2. Qualification – based on candidate’s qualifications
  3. Diversity – share of candidate’s nationality among firm’s PMETs
  4. Support for Local Employment – firm’s share of local PMETs within its subsector

For each criterion, applications that exceed expectations receive 20 points. Meeting the expectations earns them 10 points. Those who do not meet expectations will receive zero points. An application needs a minimum of 40 points in total to be approved. There is no minimum points requirement for individual criterion.

Smaller firms with fewer than 25 PMETs will automatically 10 points on the two firm-related attributes. This is equivalent to them “meeting expectations” in Diversity and Support for Local Employment.

Bonus points are given to jobs where skills shortages exist, such as artificial intelligence developers and cybersecurity specialists. Others include firms that partner the Government on ambitious innovation and internationalisation activities. These are awarded through the following two “bonus” criteria:

  1. Skills Bonus – jobs on the Shortage Occupation List, where skills shortages exist
  2. Strategic Economic Priorities Bonus – firm meets specific assessment criteria on innovation or internationalisation activities

The scoring rubric can be found on MOM’s website. Employers can also obtain the indicative scores for each application before submission. As Dr. Tan pointed out, the focus is on ensuring high quality of foreign professionals working in Singapore thus there will be no set quotas or levies on EP.