Personalised Employment Pass Holders On The Rise
A British based financial news website, HiFX - The Financial Latest, recently reported that there is an increase in the number of British professionals working in Singapore, looking to benefit from more flexible working arrangements. Indeed, Human resource firms saw greater numbers of Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) holders seeking new employment in Singapore last year. More foreign professionals have taken up the Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) in Singapore as they felt that the pass, valid for five years, provides flexibility and stability amidst the unstable job market from the recession last year.
Manager of Specialist Contracting Division at recruitment firm Robert Walters - Mr Adam Bowden, noticed the increase in PEP holders during the economic downturn in 2009. He explained that for non-Singaporeans working here, it is an “added security” should they lose their jobs but still wanted to remain in Singapore. He added another reason that more expats are choosing the PEP due to the rise in contract work here in recent years. Mr Bowden said PEP holders can move from one contract to another without the need for employers to sponsor a new employment pass each time, thus making it more convenient for employers as well.
An Information Technology professional from Britain- Mr Steven Cresswell, who got his PEP in 2008, said he was not at risk of losing his job, but “if anything happened, at least I could stay in Singapore”. Mr Cresswell, highlighted that the pass also gives him more flexibility in his career. “I work in an industry where people tend to change jobs more frequently than others, so we need the flexibility,” he said. American Adam Neely, a control systems engineer, came to Singapore in October 2008 and was searching for a job while on a social visit pass. He then switched to become a PEP holder and continued to look for his job here. He said being a PEP holder allowed him ample time to find his job in Singapore.
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) declined to specify the number of foreigners on the pass, but said they fall within the 115,000 employment pass holders here as of last December. The MOM added that PEP holders are employed in industries such as finance, insurance, the scientific and technical fields, and come mainly from Europe, Asia and the United States. It is granted to foreigners who have graduated from tertiary institutions here and worked here for a period of time, or are professionals coming to Singapore to look for a job. Director of the international manpower division at the MOM - Ms Christine Loh, cited that the scheme is an “integral part of MOM’s efforts to attract and retain global talent”, and to ensure a “more flexible working experience”.
At the same time, the latest Global Economic Conditions Survey from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (Acca) suggests that the number of professionals moving to Singapore could keep on rising as the city-state leads the rest of Asia in terms of business confidence and overall economic optimism.
What is the Personalised Employment Pass (PEP)?
Introduced in 2007, the Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) was to help Singapore attract and retain global talent. Unlike the traditional Employment Pass (EP), the PEP allows non-Singaporeans to work here without being tied to a specific employer. The PEP allows the holder to remain in Singapore for up to six months in between jobs to evaluate new employment opportunities. Currently, if an EP holder leaves his company, his EP is cancelled and he must leave Singapore within 30 days unless he finds employment with a new company. The EP holder would then be required to apply for a new EP under his new employer. However, for the case of a PEP holder, he is given the flexibility of a continuous period of up to six months without a job to evaluate employment or work opportunities. In addition, PEP holders do not need to re-apply for a new pass when changing jobs. While EP holders are tied to the employer, the PEP is granted based on the holder's individual merits.
The PEP should be applied for by the EP holder and not the employer since it’s tied to an individual and not to a company. The average processing time for PEP application is about 3 weeks. Once approved, the applicant will be given 3 months to collect the PEP. Successful applicants will be required to produce a cancellation letter for the existing EP from the current employer. Singapore companies can hire PEP holders the same way they hire Singapore citizens and PRs, and no sponsor or bank guarantee is required. However, they will need to notify the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) whenever they hire or terminate the services of a PEP holder. The PEP holder is not allowed to start his/her own business or engage in any entrepreneurial activities. The holder must apply for an EntrePass if he/she intends to do so.
The PEP will be issued only once with a validity of 5 years, and it will be non-renewable. A PEP holder will retain the dependant privileges of his original EP type and the minimum annual basic salary requirement of S$30,000 will continue to apply throughout the 5-year duration. The fees collected for each PEP application includes an administration fee of $10, and upon collection of an approved PEP - $150 per year or part thereof.