Finding Top Talent and recruiting in Singapore can bring potential challenges for companies building their international profile. Singapore is an increasingly attractive target for Global Expansion as a commercial and financial hub with one of the world’s most prosperous populations. Singapore’s nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2021 ranked 38th in the world at 378.6 billion US dollars, but the population is among the richest.  Singapore is sixth among the economies of fellow member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Our global experience is vital for taking the smartest recruitment route into Singapore. Bradford Jacobs’ benchmark platforms as a Professional Employment Organisation (PEO) have a worldwide reach and include a total understanding of the complexities of Singapore’s economy and employment market, where quotas create a hazardous backdrop for the unwary.

Recruiting in Singapore

Singapore has become one of the prime targets for international investment. However, it is essential for foreign companies taking their first steps into Singapore’s economy to have a clear plan when it comes to recruitment. The southeastern Asian city-state of Singapore is an increasingly attractive target for incoming countries establishing their presence in this world-class economic and commercial centre.

There are complications affecting businesses and incoming job seekers. The Ministry of Manpower limits the number of Work permits and S Pass-holders a company can have on their books. This can affect the initial recruitment and the ability to maintain the legally-required balance when the staff of different categories leave or join.

Employers must pay the Foreign Worker Levy (FWL) on all employees who come under these classifications. S Pass holders cannot exceed 10% of the total workforce in the services sector and 18% in the industries of construction, manufacturing and shipyards.

Recruitment is the first stage of making your company operational and competitive in Singapore. But these restrictions complicate moving staff into the country – in addition to the complexities of obtaining work permits and visas. To avoid these issues, knowing where to locate the finest talent in Singapore is vital to be the perfect fit for your company’s expansion plans. 

Employees' Legal Checks in Singapore

Employees checks in Singapore must comply with the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), and potential employees should give their permission and be advised why their data is being collected and how it will be used. The PDPA does not apply where information is publicly available. Employers should ask if the candidate holds a National Registration Identification Card (NRIC) to identify whether they need a Work Pass. Employers must comply with advertising requirements under the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF).

Criminal Record Checks:  Permissible when relevant to the role.

Medical History or Examinations: Employers may ask for medical history and require medical tests.

Educational Qualifications and References: Employers are allowed to ask for evidence.

Required:  Immigration compliance to determine whether the applicant needs a Work Pass.

Basic Facts when Recruiting in Singapore

The rights of employees and the obligations of employers in Singapore are primarily governed by the Employment Act (EA). However, this does not apply to all classes of workers. The Act’s definition of ‘employees’ does not include executive and managerial staff, domestic staff, seamen and most government employees. Where the Act does apply to employees, it details the following:

  • All employers must provide written key employment terms (KETs) to EA employees who will be working for 14 days or more.
  • The KETs should include Full names and addresses of both parties; job title, role, and start date; duration of fixed term contract; working hours, days, breaks and rest days; salary, allowances, any benefits; leave arrangements; termination and severance terms; probation and notice periods.
  • KETs should be given to EA employees within 14 days of starting employment
  • If not in the KET, information such as policies on leave and medical benefits
  • Written contracts are advised but not legally required
  • Part-time EA employees (working fewer than 35 hours a week) should also have KETs, particularly specifying their hourly pay rates
  • Employers failing to comply with KETs may lose their right to apply for future Work Passes for employees
  • Records of all EA employees must be kept up to date by employers

After hiring and onboarding, employers must be aware of other considerations. Minimum standards include sick leave, working hours, maternity allowances, paid vacations, termination and severance, notice periods and social insurance payments. Other rules regulate workplace discrimination. 

Employers’ responsibilities include:

  • Applying for the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Submission Number (CSN) and registering employees with the CPF to make social insurance contributions
  • Applying for individual CSNs as necessary according to the donations being made to the CPF on behalf of employees
  • Registering employees with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) by preparing forms IR8A, Appendix 8A, Appendix 8B and IR8S
  • Filing individual income tax (paper form) by April 15 of the year following the tax year or by April 18 electronically.
  • Applying for UEN and CSN together where necessary via the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) via the BizFile+Portal


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