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Construction sector: Work Permit requirements

To employ foreign workers for the construction sector, you will have to meet specific requirements for worker's nationality, quota and levy.

These requirements are additional and specific to the construction sector. You should refer to the more general conditions and requirements for Work Permit as well.

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

You can employ foreign workers from these countries:

  • Malaysia
  • People’s Republic of China (PRC)
  • Non-traditional sources (NTS):
    • India
    • Sri Lanka
    • Thailand
    • Bangladesh
    • Myanmar
    • Philippines
  • North Asian sources (NAS):
    • Hong Kong (HKSAR passport)
    • Macau
    • South Korea
    • Taiwan

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 construction sector, the maximum number of years a foreign worker can work in Singapore on a Work Permit is as follows:

Nationality Type of worker Maximum period of employment
NTS, PRC

Basic-Skilled (R2)

i.e. those holding SEC, SEC(K).

10 years
NTS, PRC

Higher-Skilled (R1)

i.e. those who have been upgraded through various means.

22 years
NAS, Malaysia All sectors 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 quota (or dependency ratio ceiling) and subject to a levy.

Under the construction sector quota, you can employ 7 Work Permit holders for every full-time local employee.

In addition to quota, NTS and PRC workers are subject to man-year entitlement (MYE) requirements. They may qualify for a waiver if they have at least 3 years of construction experience in Singapore. MYE does not apply to Malaysian and NAS workers.

The levy rate is as follows:

Tier Monthly Daily
Malaysians and NAS – Higher-Skilled $300 $9.87
Malaysians and NAS – Basic-Skilled $700 $23.02
NTS and PRC – higher-skilled, on MYE $300 $9.87
NTS and PRC – basic-skilled, on MYE $700 $23.02
NTS and PRC – higher-skilled, MYE waiver $600 $19.73
NTS and PRC – basic-skilled, MYE waiver $950 $31.24

Calculate your quota

You can:

Note:

  • 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.
  • If your Work Permit renewal involves changing between prior approval to MYE waiver, or vice versa, the change in levy rate will start on the 1st of the month following the expiry date of the permit.

Minimum percentage of Higher-Skilled (R1) workers

From 1 January 2017, at least 10% of your construction Work Permit holders must be Higher-Skilled (R1) before you can hire any new Basic-Skilled (R2) construction workers.

Renewals, however, will not be affected. This is tracked based on a 12-week rolling average.

From 1 January 2018, firms that do not meet the 10% R1 minimum will not only not be able to hire new R2 construction workers but will also not be able to renew the Work Permits of R2 construction workers.

From 1 January 2019, firms that do not meet the 10% R1 minimum will not be able to hire or renew R2 construction workers and will also have the Work Permits of any excess R2 construction workers revoked.

Levy bond

You will have to pay a levy bond for each Work Permit holder if:

  • Your workers’ Work Permits have been revoked because of unpaid levies.
  • You have been late in levy payments for at least 3 times in a 12-month period.
  • Your sole proprietorship has changed owner.
  • You are starting a new business entity to employ foreign workers. The business entities include:
    • Sole-proprietorship.
    • Partnership.
    • Incorporated business that has a paid-up capital of less than $50,000.

How much to pay

The amount of levy bond you need to pay depends on the worker's skill level.

If your worker is You need to pay
Basic-Skilled or Higher-Skilled $600
Unskilled $2,000

How to pay the levy bond

Processing time: 5 working days

You can pay the levy bond with a banker’s or insurance guarantee, or a cashier’s order made payable to the Controller of Work Passes. We do not accept cheques.

To submit the levy bond:

  1. Prepare the following documents:
    • Proof of levy bond payment with your company name, CPF submission number and contact details.
    • Company letter listing the number of workers the levy bond is for.
  2. Post the documents to:
    Levy Section
    Work Pass Division
    Ministry of Manpower
    18 Havelock Road
    Singapore 059764
  3. It will take 5 working days to process the documents. You can proceed with your work pass transaction after that.

The levy bond monitoring period is usually 12 months (6 months for new companies). The levy bond will be released when this monitoring period expires.

The bond monitoring period may be extended if there are more delays in levy payment.

Required safety courses

Foreign workers in the construction industry must take one of the following safety courses before their Work Permits can be issued.

  • Construction Safety Orientation Course (CSOC)
  • Apply Workplace Safety and Health in Construction Sites

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 construction sector need to retake and pass the safety course based on these timelines:

If they have worked in the construction sector 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.

Steps for a Work Permit application

When applying for a Work Permit, you need to submit your application in the following order:

For Malaysian or NAS

  1. Get in-principle approval for each Work Permit.
  2. Buy security bond.

For NTS or PRC

With MYE

  1. Apply for man-year entitlement (MYE).
  2. Ensure the company has Building Construction Authority (BCA) or Singapore List of Trade Subcontractors (SLOT) registration certification.
  3. Apply for prior approval (PA).
  4. Get in-principle approval for each Work Permit.
  5. Buy security bond.

With MYE-waiver

For workers with at least 3 years of construction experience.

  1. Make sure the company has Building Construction Authority (BCA) or Singapore List of Trade Subcontractors (SLOT) registration certification.
  2. Get in-principle approval for each Work Permit.
  3. Buy security bond.