Singapore Services Sector: Work Permit Requirements
To employ foreign workers for the services sector, you will have to meet specific requirements for business activity, worker’s source country or region, quota and levy. Find out how you can meet these criteria.
These requirements are additional and specific to the services sector. You should refer to the more general conditions and requirements for Work Permit as well.
Types of business activities
Your company can be considered to be under the services sector if it has registered any of the following as its principal business activity:
- Financial, insurance, real estate and business services.
- Transport, storage and communications services.
- Commerce (retail and wholesale trade).
- Community, social and personal services (excluding domestic workers).
- Restaurants, coffee shops, food courts and other approved food establishments (excluding food stalls or hawker stalls).
Licences for food establishments are issued by the National Environment Agency (NEA). Only operators with foodshop licences issued by NEA are allowed to employ foreign workers. The NEA licence must bear the name of the company, sole proprietor or partner.
For private limited and limited liability partnership (LLP) companies, MOM does not accept licences bearing the name of an individual.
Foreign worker eligibility
You can only hire foreign workers who meet the conditions for source countries or regions, age when applying and maximum period of employment.
Source countries or regions
You can employ foreign workers from these countries or regions:
- People’s Republic of China (PRC)
- North Asian sources (NAS):
- Hong Kong (HKSAR passport)
- South Korea
From 01 September 2023, you can employ migrant workers from Non-Traditional Sources (NTS) for a restricted set of occupations in the NTS Occupation List.
Age when applying
The minimum age for all non-domestic foreign workers is 18 years old.
When applying for a Work Permit:
- Malaysians must be below 58 years old.
- Non-Malaysians must be below 50 years old.
Maximum period of employment
For the services sector, the maximum number of years a foreign worker can work in Singapore on a Work Permit is as follows:
|Source country/region||Type of worker||Maximum period of employment|
|PRC||Basic skilled (R2)||14 years|
|PRC||Higher skilled (R1)||22 years|
|NAS, Malaysia||All||No maximum period of employment.|
Note: All workers can only work up to 60 years of age.
Quota and levy
The number of Work Permit holders that you can hire is limited by a quota (or dependency ratio ceiling, DRC) and subject to a levy.
The DRC for the services sector is 35%. The levy rates are tiered so that those who hire close to the maximum quota will pay a higher levy.
The levy rate and tiers for the services sector are as follows:
|Quota||Basic skilled – monthly||Basic skilled – daily||Higher skilled – monthly||Higher skilled – daily|
|Basic Tier / Tier 1:|
Up to 10% of the total workforce
Above 10% to 25% of the total workforce
Above 25% to 35% of the total workforce
- Refer to the MOM guidelines on how to calculate your quota and levy bill.
- Learn about S Pass quota and levy rates or at www.mom.gov.sg
The daily levy rate only applies to Work Permit holders who did not work for a full calendar month. The daily levy rate is calculated as follows: (Monthly levy rate x 12) / 365 = rounding up to the nearest cent.
For companies that exceed the new DRCs, they will:
- Be allowed to keep their excess workers until the Work Permits expire.
- Not be able to apply for new or renew Work Permits in excess of the DRC.
Qualifying for higher skilled worker levy
You pay less levy for higher skilled foreign workers. You can apply for the higher skilled worker levy rate for workers who meet the following requirements:
|Requirements||What is needed|
|Skills Evaluation Test (SET)conducted by ITE|
|Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ)|
One of the following:
For landscape industry
|Market-Based Skills Recognition Framework (MBF)|
Additional requirement for hotel, retail and F&B industries:
- To qualify as higher skilled workers, non-Malaysian Work Permit holders working in the hotel, retail and F&B industries must also obtain level 4 of the Workplace Literacy (WPL) listening and speaking assessments administered by British Council. The British Council will then inform MOM automatically. You do not need to apply to MOM for conversion to higher skilled worker levy.
- You can register for the WPL assessments at: https://www.britishcouncil.sg/exam/wpln. For more information, refer to the FAQ On Literacy Assessment.
- Those who qualify under MBF are not required to go through additional WPL assessments.
Job Flexibility Scheme
The Job Flexibility Scheme allows Work Permit holders in the services sector to multi-task across occupations. Refer to the Tripartite Guidelines on the Job Flexibility Scheme for implementation practices.
Note: This does not apply to Work Permit (Performing Artiste).
Source of Information for all Work Passes & their related matters is from the Ministry Of Manpower, Singapore.
Please refer to MOM website at www.mom.gov.sg for more detailed information and up-to-date guidelines with regulations.