Manufacturing Sector: Foreign Worker Work Permit Requirements
To employ foreign workers for the manufacturing sector, you will have to meet specific requirements for business activity, worker’s source country or region, quota and levy.
These requirements are additional and specific to the manufacturing sector. You should refer to the more general conditions and requirements for Work Permit as well.
Requirements to be classified as manufacturing sector
Your company can be considered to be under the manufacturing sector if it meets all of these requirements:
- Has a valid factory notification or registration.
- Use machinery to manufacture or produce items from raw materials.
- Operates in a designated industrial setting area.
- For food processing companies: Has a valid Singapore Food Agency (SFA) licence to operate a food processing establishment or slaughter-house.
Make sure that your company continues to meet the requirements, or it may get reclassified into a different sector.
Examples of manufacturing activities
- Manufacturing of electronics components
- Manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and biological products
- Manufacturing of basic industrial acids and alkalis
- Manufacturing of oil or gas field machinery
- Manufacturing of waxes, polishes and deodorants
- Electroplating, hot-tip galvanising, die-casting and heat treatment
- Semiconductor wafer fabrication plants
- Manufacturing or processing of food or drinks
Examples of non-manufacturing activities
- Assembly of ready-made parts
- Bulk-breaking (e.g. cutting from big to small customised sizes)
- Change of product colour
- Basic modification (e.g. cutting or trimming of parts)
- Sole printing (e.g. printing of posters, T-shirts, name cards)
- Repair and maintenance
- Testing or quality control
- Packing or repacking
You should not deploy your Work Permit and S Pass holders to work in a retail or food and beverage setting or outlet. You need to add a business activity so that you can get a separate services account to employ them.
Change business process or relocate
If you plan to change your business processes or relocate, you need to give us the details to assess your business classification.
You can make the request using iSubmit. Under Request Type, choose option 6.
Foreign Worker Eligibility
You can only hire foreign workers who satisfy the conditions for source countries, age when applying and maximum period of employment.
Source countries or regions
You can employ foreign workers from these countries or regions:
- Malaysia Worker
- People’s Republic of China (PRC Worker) China Worker
- North Asian sources (NAS):
- Hong Kong Worker (HKSAR passport)
- Macau Workers
- South Korea Worker
- Taiwan Workers
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 manufacturing 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.|
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 quota (or dependency ratio ceiling) and subject to a levy. The levy rates are tiered so that those who hire close to the maximum quota will pay a higher levy.
The quota and levy rate for the manufacturing sector are as follows:
|Quota||Basic skilled – monthly||Basic skilled – daily||Higher skilled – monthly||Higher skilled – daily|
|Basic Tier / Tier 1:|
Up to 25% of the total workforce
Above 25% to 50% of the total workforce
Above 50% to 60% of the total workforce
Calculate your quota
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.
- Refer to the Local Qualifying Salary (LQS) to determine the number of local employees who can be counted towards your Work Permit and S Pass quota entitlement.
- Refer to the guidelines on how to calculate your quota and levy bill.
- Learn more about S Pass quota and levy rates.
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 with the following certificates:
|Type of qualification||Certificates needed|
Malaysia – Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM). If you wish to use a diploma or higher qualification, you need to produce a copy of the transcript or a letter from the institution stating the course duration.
North Asian sources (NAS) – High school certificates
People’s Republic of China (PRC) – Diploma
|Skills Evaluation Test (SET) conducted by ITE||SET Level 1 or National ITE Certificate (Nitec)|
|Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ)||Composite Assessment for Generic Manufacturing (CGM)|
|Market-Based Skills Recognition Framework (MBF)|
Required safety courses
Foreign workers who handle metals and machinery in metalworking industry must take one of the following safety courses before their Work Permits can be issued:
- Metalworking Safety Orientation Course (MSOC)
- Apply Workplace Safety and Health in Metal Work
As soon as you get in-principle approval, register the workers for the course. They should take the course within 2 weeks of arriving in Singapore. The Work Permit cannot be issued until they take the course.
As an employer, you are responsible for your workers passing the test. If they fail the course, they should retake it as soon as possible. They need to pass the course within 3 months of arrival or their Work Permit could be revoked.
Course requirements during employment
Foreign workers in the metalworking industry need to retake and pass the safety course based on these timelines:
|If they have worked in the metalworking industry for||They must pass the safety course|
|6 years or less||Once every 2 years|
|More than 6 years||Once every 4 years|
When renewing a Work Permit, the worker’s safety course certificate must be valid for more than 1 month on the day of renewal. Otherwise the Work Permit will not be renewed.
You must buy a security bond for each non-Malaysian foreign worker you employ. You can buy the bond at any bank or insurance company.
What is a security bond
A security bond is a binding pledge to pay the government if either you or your worker breaks the law or Work Permit conditions. The bond is in the form of a banker’s or insurer’s guarantee.
You must buy a $5,000 security bond for each non-Malaysian Work Permit holder you employ. You cannot ask your worker to pay for the bond.
When to buy the bond
Before your worker arrives in Singapore, you must:
- Buy a security bond.
- Get your insurer to send us the security bond details. It takes up to 3 working days.
- Ensure that the security bond takes effect when your worker arrives.
- Log in to WP Online to check the security bond status and print the security bond acknowledgement letter. Send your worker a copy of the letter.
If you do not complete the steps above, your workers will be refused entry into Singapore and you will have to pay to send them home immediately.
When will the bond be discharged
You will be discharged from the security bond liability for a worker only if you meet all of these conditions:
- You have cancelled the Work Permit.
- The worker has returned home.
- You did not breach any of the conditions of the security bond.
If all conditions are met, the security bond will usually be discharged one week after the worker left Singapore.
You’ll be notified by post when the security bond is discharged.
When the bond will be forfeited
Your security bond may be forfeited if any of these happens:
- You or your worker violates any of the conditions of the Work Permit or security bond.
- You don’t pay your worker’s salary on time.
- You fail to send your worker home when the Work Permit is expired, revoked or cancelled.
- Your worker goes missing.
You will not be liable for your workers’ violations (such as those relating to pregnancy) if you can prove that you have:
- Informed them of the Work Permit conditions they must comply with.
- Reported a violation when you first become aware of it.
You need to buy a medical insurance plan for each foreign worker you employ. You also need to submit the insurance details online before the Work Permit can be issued.
What it should cover
As an employer, you must buy and maintain medical insurance coverage of at least $15,000 per year for each Work Permit holder.
The insurance should cover inpatient care and day surgery, including hospital bills for conditions that may not be work related.
You can have a co-pay arrangement with the Work Permit holder only if all of the following are met:
- The medical treatment is not for work-related inpatient expenses.
- The co-pay amount is reasonable and does not exceed 10% of the worker’s monthly salary.
- The duration co-payment does not exceed 6 months.
- The co-payment option is explicitly in the employment contract or collective agreement and has the worker’s full consent.
Submit insurance details
You need to submit medical insurance details online before you request to issue or renew a Work Permit, and when the details change.
To update the information, log in to WP Online.
You need to keep the following information up to date:
- Name of Insurer
- Insurance policy number
- Insurance policy commencement date
- Insurance policy expiry date
You need to send your workers for a medical examination before their Work Permit is issued.
Clinics will likely resume medical examinations for pass issuance in Phase 2 (Safe Transition period). Workers will be given more time to complete their medical examinations. You can proceed to get Work Permits issued without your workers’ medical results.
Requirements for the check-up
You must send your workers for a medical examination by a Singapore-registered doctor within 2 weeks of their arrival in Singapore. Bring along the medical examination form when the worker goes for the tests.
The worker must pass the examination, and you need the completed medical form to get the Work Permit issued. Those who fail the examination will have to be sent home.
The medical examination screens the worker for 4 types of infectious diseases (tuberculosis, HIV, syphilis and malaria) and checks if they are fit to work.
You can send your workers for more tests if you have specific concerns about their health.
You must pay your foreign worker the monthly salary that you declare to us. You need to pay the salary within 7 days of the end of the month.
As part of the Work Permit application, you must declare the fixed monthly salary that the Work Permit holder will be receiving.
When to pay
You must pay the salary that your worker is due each month, no later than 7 days after the last day of that month.
The salary period must not exceed 1 month.
How to pay
You can pay the salary either by cash or by crediting the wages directly into the worker’s bank account.
If you both agree that you should keep the bank account book, you need to allow the worker to check the book to make sure that payments are made regularly.
You must keep a record of the monthly salary and be able to produce this record if requested.
You should consider raising your worker’s salary periodically as a reward for good performance and loyalty in service.
Apart from monthly wages, you may also consider offering your worker a contract gratuity as an incentive.
You should negotiate the amount of gratuity with the worker. You can pay it at the end of an agreed period of employment, which should be before the Work Permit expires.
CPF is not required
You do not need to make Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions for your foreign workers.
You will get an in-principle approval if your Work Permit application is approved.
What is in-principle approval
An in-principle approval (IPA) is one of the requirements for getting foreign workers to Singapore.
You will get an IPA letter when your Work Permit application is approved.
The validity of the IPA will be mentioned in the letter. This is the window you have to bring the foreign worker to Singapore.
To check the validity of an IPA, use Work Permit or IPA Validity Check via WP Online (Non-login).
Extend an IPA
Processing time: Immediate
You can extend the IPA for up to 1 month if you need more time. You are allowed to extend the IPA only once.
To extend an IPA, log in to WP Online to make the request at least 1 week before the IPA expires.
If approved, you can print the extended IPA online.