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Foreign workers continue to rate working in Singapore favourably in latest survey

Pay, living conditions, safety and security commonly cited reasons

1. The Ministry of Manpower’s 2018 Foreign Worker Experience Survey found that foreign workers (FWs) working in Singapore are generally satisfied with their working conditions. Respondents ranked Singapore as a choice work destination, and would recommend their families and friends to work here. 

2. The findings from this latest survey are consistent with the results from the last survey conducted in 2014. About 2,500 Work Permit holders (WPHs) and 500 S Pass holders were polled for the survey.

3. Commenting on the 2018 survey findings, Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said: “We are encouraged that most foreign workers continue to be satisfied with working in Singapore, and find Singapore an attractive work destination. We will continue to work closely with our stakeholders, including employers and non-governmental organisations, to ensure that foreign workers’ well-being and interests are safeguarded.” 

Pay, living conditions, safety and security reasons cited for high satisfaction   
4. The 2018 survey found that close to 9 in 10 FWs (86.3% of WPHs and 87.5% of S Pass holders) were satisfied with working in Singapore. A similar proportion (84.0% of WPHs and 91.0% of S Pass holders) would recommend Singapore to their friends and relatives as a place for work. 

5. Pay, living conditions, high levels of safety and security in Singapore were the commonly cited reasons for the FWs’ satisfaction. Most FWs (87.1% of WPHs and 88.3% of S Pass holders) indicated that the working conditions at their workplaces were safe. Almost all of the FWs surveyed (96.3% of WPHs and 95.6% of S Pass holders) were able to choose their own food arrangements; most preferred to cook or purchase their own meals. 

High awareness of channels of information and assistance 

6. Majority of the FWs obtained information on their employment rights from MOM (63.4% for WPHs and 79.1% for S Pass holders). Most FWs also felt that MOM had done well in protecting FWs (87.0% for WPHs and 89.6% for S Pass holders), and found it easy to approach MOM, if they faced issues related to their current employment (82.8% for WPHs and 78.9% for S Pass holders).  

Continued efforts to ensure all foreign workers receive their In-Principle Approval (IPA) letters

7. The majority (84.6%) of non-Malaysian WPHs surveyed indicated that they received their In-Principle Approval (IPA)1 letters before coming to Singapore. Under our laws, employers and employment agencies are required to send the complete set of IPA letters to their FWs before they arrive in Singapore. Since the introduction of the Settling-in Programme (SIP) in October 2018, FWs have also been required to bring their IPA letters when they attend the programme. 

8. MOM’s recent checks showed that 97% of foreign workers had their IPA letters with them when they attended the SIP in February to April 2019. The small minority of FWs who did not have their complete set of IPA letters, were given a copy of the letters by the Migrant Workers’ Centre during the SIP. MOM will also investigate and enforce against any employer and employment agency who does not send the IPA letter to the worker prior to his departure to Singapore. Failure to send the IPA letter is an infringement under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Regulations, and carries a maximum financial penalty of $10,000.

9. The full report on the findings is available at


About the Foreign Worker (FW) Experience Survey

The 2018 FW Experience Survey, commissioned by the Ministry of Manpower, was conducted by an independent survey company. Around 2,500 WPHs and 500 S Pass holders were randomly selected for the survey, based on a sampling frame designed to be representative of the FW population profile in Singapore. It was a pen-and-paper self-administered survey. This is the third time the survey had been conducted, after 2011 and 20142.  

The scope of the survey covered: 

FWs’ overall satisfaction with working in Singapore; 
FWs’ future intentions and whether they would recommend Singapore as a place to work;
FWs’ experiences at various stages of the employment process;  
FWs’ awareness and use of channels for work injury assistance and information on employment rights; and
FWs’ perceptions of MOM and their workplaces.


  1. The IPA letter, which is issued by MOM, allows the workers to come into Singapore for the purposes of work, and includes information on the workers’ key employment terms such as salary, allowances and deductions. Employers are required to ensure that their workers receive the IPA letter prior to their arrival in Singapore.
  2. The 2014 and 2011 report can be found at and