Working In Singapore

Working in Singapore

Singapore is one of the most popular destinations for expats. Career prospects are abundant in this tropical city state. The modern and urbanized island is home to a large expat population. The locals are easy to work and interact with, and expats will find that settling in will be faster than expected. The employment conditions in Singapore are one of the best globally. Transparent and fair ruling makes it easy for employers and employees to have mutually beneficial and clear contract terms.

Employer Responsibilities

Your employer must guarantee and satisfy the following conditions till the end of your employment:

  • Pay you a fixed monthly wage (inclusive of your basic monthly salary and fixed monthly allowances)
  • Advertise the job on Jobs Bank before submitting an Employment Pass application
  • Provide Work Injury Compensation Coverage (WICA)
  • Get written consent from you to proceed with the application

Your Responsibilities

As an expat coming to live and work in Singapore, you need to abide by certain laws as well. To ensure your employment pass approval, you must:

  • Not engage in any full time or part time employment in an occupation or field or business with any other employer except that of the one listed in your work visa
  • Only generate employment income from that specific job
  • Notify your employer immediately so that they can update records if there is a change in address provided to your employer
  • Always have your employment pass with you as a primary form of identification

Applying for a Work Permit

Individuals are not authorized to apply for work visas. Your employer needs to submit the application on your behalf.

Your employer will request the necessary information and documents from you, and inform you about the application process and the estimated processing timeline, having the following handy will help prevent any delays in the process:

  • Your Birth certificate
  • Your Marriage certificate if you are married
  • Recent passport photographs
  • Academic certificates and transcripts
  • Income history for the past 3 years
  • Copy of your passport
  • Your CV / Resume

Work Visa Categories

Your prospective employer will assess and apply for the work visa that best suits your eligibility. Some of the most common work visas for Singapore Expats are as follows:

  • Employment Pass: This pass is for professionals, managers and executives, with a minimum salary of S$4,500 per month. You may visit Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower website for more detailed information about the Employment Pass.
  • Personalised Employment Pass: This pass is meant for high earning Employment pass holders or foreign professionals who earn more than S$12,000 a month. You may check the Ministry of Manpower’s dedicated page for detailed information about the Personalised Employment Pass
  • EntrePass: The EntrePass is a new scheme aimed at encouraging entrepreneurship, and allows eligible foreign individuals to begin and operate a new business in Singapore. More detailed information on the Entrepass can be found here on the Ministry of Manpower’s website.

Business Culture in Singapore

It is hard to determine a set business culture in Singapore. Being a ethnically diverse country, there are a few different cultures that have influenced the way business is done in Singapore. There are, however some common practices that everyone can agree on when it comes to business communication and interaction:

  • English is the working language, and used throughout the entire workforce
  • Handshakes are the most common greeting (Pre-Covid), in today’s world a smile and a nod minimizing physical contact is the best way forward
  • Rank and File systems in the workplace exist and are honored. If you have to question your superior, ask for a private discussion and do it respectfully with the aim of learning the rationale behind his/her decision instead of attempting to question their authority
  • Never be late to meetings, and if it is absolutely beyond your control, call in advance and inform the person you are scheduled to meet.
  • Business meetings follow a thorough order with a pre defined agenda
  • Vulgarities and swearing are not common in everyday general conversations
  • Never touch anyone on their head, or point at them with your finger to identify them.
  • When dining for a business meeting, be sure to check if any of the attendees are Muslim, and choose a Halal restaurant. It is also good to note that Buddhists and Hindus do not eat beef.
  • Normal Business attire that is acceptable: Shirt and Pants for Men, ties and jackets only required for more formal meetings. Office wear for women.

Fast Facts About Business in Singapore

  • The normal work day typically lasts from 9am to 5.30pm. Since early 2020, Work from Home has become the norm for most job functions
  • The unemployment rate among citizens and permanent residents as of 30th October 2020 was 4.7%. For the past 10 years however, the unemployment rate was at an average of 2.2%. Covid-19 has caused the unemployment rate to more than double
  • The current average monthly salary in Singapore as of end 2019 was SGD4,563. The average growth in average monthly salary over the last 10 years is 4%.
You can find more information on transport and housing, education and childcare and top 5 things to know when moving to Singapore to ensure you have a full spectrum of tips and advise considering a move to Singapore.