Employment Pass Applicants Must Hit Minimum Point Score Soon To Ensure Their Quality

COMPASS System Awards Points Based On Various Criteria, 40 To Pass

The employment of foreigners continues to be a heated issue in Singapore.

Most would agree that it’s to our benefit to ensure the foreigners who come to work in Singapore deserve to be here, and aren’t taking jobs from citizens who’re just as qualified.

Thus, the Government has introduced a new points system for Employment Pass (EP) applicants to fulfill.

The move will help maintain the high quality of our foreign talent so they complement the local workforce.

COMPASS will evaluate EP applicants transparently

The Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) was announced by Manpower Minister Tan See Leng in Parliament on Friday (4 Mar).

In his speech, the minister said the points-based system will “holistically” evaluate an EP applicant in a transparent manner.


This will make the process clearer for businesses and help in their manpower planning.

It will take effect for new applications from Sep 2023, and for renewals from Sep 2024.

How COMPASS works

EP applicants – who should by right be applying for professional, manager, engineer and technician (PMET) positions – are scored based on 4 foundational criteria and 2 bonus criteria.

The foundational criteria is based on the applicant’s individual attributes and those of their company.

The bonus criteria recognises applicants who bring in skills that are in shortage and/or support strategic economic priorities.


The applicant will earn either 0, 10 or 20 points for each criteria, depending on how much they meet expectations.


Applicants must accumulate 40 points to pass COMPASS.

Check out the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM’s) website for detailed info on how to score points.

Majority of applications won’t have issues: Tan

Employers shouldn’t fret over COMPASS though, as Minister Tan said it isn’t designed to make it harder for them to hire EP holders.

In fact, he said “a good majority of applications today would not have issues”.

However, some EP holders won’t meet the quality bar and will be affected, but he added,

This is how we constantly ensure that we maintain a high-quality EP stock, that complements our local workforce.

He called on companies who don’t meet the criteria to make adjustments – and with COMPASS they will at least know their areas of improvement.

Qualifying salary to go up

Before even reaching the stage of COMPASS, applicants must first meet the EP minimum qualifying salary.

And, as was mentioned in Finance Minister Lawrence Wong’s Budget 2022 speech, this will be raised from Sep 2022.

Applicants will have to be paid $5,000 per month, up from the current $4,500. Those in the financial services sector must be paid $5,500, from $5,000 – due to the sector’s higher wage norms.


This qualifying salary will also rise according to the employee’s age, since local PMET wages also rise with age.

The last time the EP qualifying salary was raised was in Sep 2020, when it went up from $3,900 to $4,500.

Ensuring ‘cheaper’ foreigners aren’t coming in

Minister Tan stressed that the moves are “not intended as a tightening measure”.

MOM empathises that the market for skilled workers is “sufficiently tight”, so they’re ensuring that the qualifying salary keeps pace with local wage growth.

This, he said, is,

…so that foreigners are not coming in just because they are cheaper than local PMETs.

Besides, the minister added, most EP holders won’t be affected by the changes as they earn “well above the qualifying salary”.

Overall, the main aims of the updates are to:

  1. bring in a higher-quality foreign workforce to complement our local workforce
  2. support employers that reskill their workers and transfer their capabilities to build a strong Singaporean core
  3. ensure diversity in our foreign workforce – 1 way is to avoid companies bringing in workers whose nationality is already over-represented in the office
  4. drive productivity growth, while keeping our reliance on foreign labour sustainable

Minister Tan said the new measures will also help Singapore remain “open and connected to the world”.

Ensuring balance in our labour market

Finding work in Singapore has always been difficult even before the challenging economy created by the pandemic.

Thus, Singaporeans will appreciate the efforts by MOM to ensure that any foreigner that takes a job here is good enough to benefit us.

At the same time, they’ll hopefully help companies to fulfill their manpower needs adequately and in a reasonably balanced way.

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Featured image from MS News.

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