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How to Hire Foreigners in Singapore?

8 min read|Last Updated: November 27, 2022|
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Employees are the heart of your business. After incorporating your company in Singapore, the next step is to start your recruitment process and hire the right talents. There are certain requirements when you decide to hire foreign talents in Singapore.

What is the Singapore Employment Act?

Before diving into the actual process of hiring a foreign talent, it is important to understand the Singapore Employment Act. This Act is the main labour law that manages the relationship between employers and employees in the Singapore and provides the fundamental needs and working conditions for the employees.

The Employment Act also prevents employers from mistreating their employees regarding their work rights. This regulation is stated clearly and signed off by both the employer and employees in their employment contract.

There are some key features of the Employment Act:

Key Features Managers / Executives Employees earning >S$2,000 monthly Employees earning <S$2,000 monthly
Maximum Working Hours Weekly As per the contract, commonly 40-50 hours As per the contract, commonly 40-50 hours 44 hours
Maximum Days of Work Weekly As per the contract, commonly 5 days As per the contract, commonly 5 days 6 days
Overtime As per the contract, commonly Not required As per the contract Maximum of 72 hours monthly, employees to be paid at 1.5 times the basic
hourly rate
Central Provident Fund (CPF) for PRs Required Required Required
Singapore Citizens Annual Bonus As per the contract, equivalent to 1-4 months of salary As per the contract, equivalent to 1-4 months of salary As per contract
Paid Annual Leave As per the contract, commonly 15 days As per the contract, commonly 15 days 1st year – 7 days 2nd year- 8 days 3rd year- 9 days (Increased to 14 days)
Paid Sick Leave As per the contract, commonly 14 days annually As per the contract, commonly 14 days annually Outpatient: 5-14 days (employment period served)
Hospitalized: 15-60 days (employment period served)
Paid Maternity Leave (if applicable) 16 weeks First 8 weeks paid by the employer for 1st two confinements 16 weeks First 8 weeks paid by the employer for 1st two confinements 16 weeks First 8 weeks paid by the employer for 1st two confinements
Paid Annual Childcare Leave (Until the child turns seven years old) 6 days 1st three days paid by the employer 6 days 1st three days paid by the employer 6 days 1st three days paid by the employer
Unpaid Infant Care Leave (Until the infant turns two years) 6 days 6 days 6 days
Probation Period As per the contract, commonly 6 months As per the contract, commonly 6 months As per the contract, commonly 6 months
Paid Public Holidays 11 days 11 days 11 days
Medical Insurance As per the contract As per the contract As per the contract
Termination Notice Period As per the contract, commonly 1-3 months As per the contract, commonly 1-3 months As per the contract, commonly 1-3 months

How Do I Employ a Foreigner in Singapore?

There are a few requirements when hiring foreigners in Singapore:

  • A foreign employee must be able to obtain a valid work permit and visa, depending on their qualifications, salary, and positions.
  • You will have to apply for a work visa, for example, the Singapore Employment Pass, on their behalf before signing any employment contract with them.
  • Be aware of the limit placed by the Employment Act concerning the total number of foreign employees in a company.

Types of Working Visas Available in Singapore

After noting these pointers, the next step is understanding the types of working visas available in Singapore. There are generally 3 categories of working visas that will be issued to foreigners.

Work Visa Type Education Salary Range Scope of Work
Employment pass, EntrePass & Personalised Employment Pass Degree & above Above S$5,000 Professional work such as Engineering, Technology, Management consulting, Medical, financial field and many others
S Pass Degree or diploma or technical certificates Min. S$3,000 Executive work such as Admin, Operational and more routine base type of work any industries
Work Permit No min requirement No min requirement Foreign workers provide physical labour work working in the construction, manufacturing, marine shipyard, process, or services sector.
Wan Yi

Restrictions on Hiring Foreigners in Singapore

When hiring foreigners, you should also note the quota for doing so. The Singapore government introduced the Dependency Ratio Ceiling (DRC) to encourage companies to hire locals. DRC will limit the number of foreigners in a company and is calculated for identifying the maximum permitted ratio of foreign workers a company can employ.

If you’re not sure on how many foreign talents you are allowed to employ, you can easily calculate it on the Ministry of Manpower website.


Guidelines for Recruitment

Employers are advised to adhere to progressive and fair Human Resource (HR) practices when finding employees as Singapore’s workforce is diverse in terms of age, gender, and ethnicity. The guidelines are as follows:

  • You are not to list attributes when doing job advertisements unless it is justifiable
  • Tests and interviews for jobs should be relevant to the job position
  • Your selection criteria should be public and is done according to the job requirement
  • Give experience, skills, and ability first place as opposed to race, gender, disability, age, family status, or religion
  • You should follow a system of Meritocracy

Attracting & Retaining Talents Post-Pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed how we work, with the rise of hybrid and remote working models. Virtual offices are becoming more popular, giving employees the flexibility of working from anywhere while providing physical spaces and office-related services when needed.

Here are some ways to attract and retain talents, especially in these times:

  • Create a positive hiring experience
  • Build an inclusive culture
  • Give recognition when due
  • Promote work-life balance

  • Upskilling & career development


Come to our office or get in touch virtually for a consultation on your company incorporation with employment pass, and other corporate services.

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Do I need to continue paying my employees with Work Permit if they have no work?2021-09-06T22:44:36+08:00

Yes, you must continue paying your employees with Work Permit even though you don’t have jobs for them. Work Permit holders should receive a fixed monthly paid that is stated in their WP application form.

Can I hire someone who is 16 years old as my employee?2021-09-06T22:46:43+08:00

No, the legal age to work in Singapore is 17 years old and above. However, exception applies to certain cases, check out MOM website for details.

What questions should an employer ask themselves before hiring an employee?2020-11-09T14:10:05+08:00

Questions an employer should ask before hiring an employee are:

  • Do I have a good understanding of the labor laws that binds me and my employee?
  • Do I know the formalities for hiring a local or foreign employee?
  • Are there guidelines for recruitment, do I know what I ought to do or not do?
  • How much have I set aside to hire an employee, what are the acceptable wages?
  • Am I mandated to any funds, contributions, or levies?
  • Is there a difference in hiring part-time, full-time, or contract employees?
Which work visa should my foreign employee apply?2022-07-19T12:26:01+08:00

It depends on the nature of their work. There are three type of work visa in Singapore: work permit, S Pass or an Employment Pass (EP).

  • EP: Skilled workforce such as doctors, software engineers, and R&D specialists.
  • S Pass: Semi-skilled workforces such as chefs, administrative professionals, and technicians
  • Work Permit: Unskilled workforce such as construction workers and domestic workers.

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