Singapore clarifies rules on foreign workers

Out-Law News | 26 Jan 2021 | 12:27 am | 1 min. read

Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has clarified rules governing the work rights of some employees of foreign multinational companies.

The guidance makes clear the distinction between foreign employees brought in from overseas offices of multinational corporations, intra-corporate transferees (ICTs), and other workers whose right to work stems from them holding an Employment Pass (EP).

To qualify as an ICT a worker must meet the EP criteria, as well as have certain experience and have worked in the parent company for a minimum duration.

Since November foreign employees of multinational corporations who are sent to the company's Singapore branch as an ICT have not been allowed to bring their family members to Singapore via dependents' passes or long-term visit passes.

One exception is that this rule does not apply to ICTs if they come from countries that have a free trade agreement with Singapore that stipulates that they can bring their families with them.

In comparison, EP holders can bring their family members to Singapore.

ICTs are being told that they will not be allowed to remain in Singapore for a limited period to find a new job if their work passes have been cancelled. EP holders can do so if they meet specific criteria.

MOM has suggested that in the future ICTs could consider applying as regular EPs instead of ICTs. This clarification may discourage some employers from applying for EPs via the ICT route, which is exempt from the Fair Consideration Framework.

Mayumi Soh of Pinsent Masons MPillay, the Singapore joint law venture between MPillay and Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said: “This clarification makes it clear that employers should not think of this as a ‘quicker alternative’ to the normal EP application route.”