To employ foreign workers for the services sector, you have to meet specific requirements for business activity, worker’s source country or region, quota and levy. Find out how you can meet these criteria.
These requirements are additional and specific to the services sector. You should refer to the more general conditions and requirements for Work Permit as well.
Types of business activities
Your company can be considered to be under the services sector if it has registered any of the following as its principal business activity:
- Financial, insurance, real estate, infocomm and business services.
- Transport, storage and communications services.
- Commerce (retail and wholesale trade).
- Community, social and personal services (excluding domestic workers).
- Restaurants, coffee shops, food courts and other approved food establishments (excluding food stalls or hawker stalls).
Licences for food establishments are issued by Singapore Food Agency (SFA). Only operators with foodshop licences issued by SFA are allowed to employ foreign workers. The SFA licence must bear the name of the company, sole proprietor or partner.
For private limited and limited liability partnership (LLP) companies, we do not accept licences bearing the name of an individual.
Foreign worker eligibility
You can only hire foreign workers who meet the conditions for source countries or regions, age when applying and maximum period of employment.
Source countries or regions
You can employ foreign workers from these countries or regions:
- People’s Republic of China (PRC)
- North Asian sources (NAS):
- Hong Kong (HKSAR passport)
- South Korea
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 services 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
||Basic skilled (R2)
||Higher skilled (R1)
||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 a quota (or dependency ratio ceiling, DRC) and subject to a levy.
The DRC for the services sector is 38%. The levy rates are tiered so that those who hire close to the maximum quota will pay a higher levy.
The levy rate and tiers for the services sector are as follows:
Basic skilled – monthly
Basic skilled – daily
Higher skilled – monthly
Higher skilled – daily
Basic Tier / Tier 1:
Up to 10% of the total workforce
Above 10% to 25% of the total workforce
Above 25% to 38% of the total workforce
Calculate your quota
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.
The DRC for the services sector will be reduced to 35% from 1 January 2021.
For companies that exceed the new DRCs, they will:
- Be allowed to keep their excess workers until the Work Permits expire.
- Not be able to apply for new or renew Work Permits in excess of the DRC.
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 who meet the following requirements:
Additional requirement for hotel, retail and F&B industries
To qualify as higher skilled workers, non-Malaysian Work Permit holders working in the hotel, retail and F&B industries must also obtain level 4 of the Workplace Literacy and Numeracy (WPLN) listening and speaking assessments.
Register for WPLN assessments at the British Council’s website.
The British Council will inform MOM automatically. You don’t need to apply to MOM for conversion to higher-skilled worker levy.
Those who qualify under MBF are not required to go through additional WPLN assessments.
Job Flexibility Scheme
The Job Flexibility Scheme allows Work Permit holders in the services sector to multi-task across occupations. Refer to the Tripartite Guidelines on the Job Flexibility Scheme for implementation practices.
This does not apply to Work Permit (Performing Artiste).