Singapore will progressively require all employment pass holders to score at least 40 points under COMPASS, a new points-based system for evaluating applications and renewals.


Overview of COMPASS—the Complementarity Assessment Framework for Employment Pass Applications

April 7, 2023

Since 1 September 2022, Singapore has implemented progressive updates to its Employment Pass (EP) eligibility framework, including changes to the minimum EP qualifying monthly salary (i.e., S$5,500 for EPs in the financial services sector and S$5,000 for EPs in other sectors).

From 1 September 2023, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will also require EP applicants to pass the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS), a points-based system that MOM will use to evaluate EP applications and renewals.  COMPASS will be introduced progressively to give employers time to adjust to the new requirements.  COMPASS will apply to new EP applications from 1 September 2023 and to EP renewals from 1 September 2024.

What is COMPASS?

COMPASS is used to evaluate each EP application based on a holistic set of individual and firm-related attributes, where points are awarded for meeting (10 points) or exceeding (20 points) various foundational and bonus criteria.  An EP applicant will require a minimum of 40 points to pass COMPASS.  

The table below summarises how points can be earned under COMPASS.

Criteria Description Scoring
Foundational: Salary The applicant’s fixed monthly salary compared to local professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMET) salaries in sector by age Equal or above 90th percentile: 20 points
65th to below 90th percentile: 10 points
Below 65th percentile: 0 points
Foundational: Qualifications The applicant’s qualifications Top-tier institution: 20 points
Degree-equivalent qualification: 10 points
No degree-equivalent qualification: 0 points
Foundational: Diversity The applicant’s nationality among the firm’s PMETs Less than 5%: 20 points
5% to below 25%: 10 points (small firms with fewer than 25 PMET employees score 10 points by default)
Equal or above 25%: 0 points
Foundational: Support for Local Employment The firm’s share of local PMETs within its subsector Equal or above 50th percentile: 20 points
20th to below 50th percentile: 10 points (small firms with fewer than 25 PMET employees score 10 points by default)
Below 20th percentile: 0 points
Bonus: Skills Whether the job is on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) Up to 20 bonus points may be awarded
Bonus may be reduced to 10 points if the share of the applicant’s nationality among the firm’s PMETs is one-third or higher
Bonus: Strategic Economic Priorities (SEP) Whether the firm meets specific criteria on investment, innovation, internationalisation, or company and workforce transformation activities Up to 10 bonus points may be awarded

Bonus Criteria under COMPASS

As complementary foreign talent may be required to meet the growing demand for skilled roles, EP applicants can be awarded up to 20 bonus points if they are in any of the listed occupations under the SOL.  MOM will impose additional safeguards on EP applicants who require the SOL bonus points to pass COMPASS (e.g., conducting verification checks and imposing conditions restricting the employment to the specific shortage occupation).  The SOL will be reviewed every 3 years, but MOM will retain the flexibility to add or remove occupations annually if required by market conditions.

In addition, MOM also recognises firms undertaking ambitious investment, innovation, internationalisation or company and workforce transformation activities through the SEP bonus criteria.  To qualify for the SEP bonus, firms must be supported by sector agencies or the National Trades Union Congress and must participate in an eligible programme listed by MOM.  Supported firms will be awarded 10 bonus points on COMPASS for each EP application submitted to MOM for up to 3 years.  After 3 years, firms are required to meet the firm-related attributes under the COMPASS foundational criteria (i.e., at least 10 points each).

Key Takeaway

All firms which require foreign skilled talent to complement their local hires should begin planning for their transition to COMPASS and if required, review their current hiring policies to meet these new requirements.

For More Information

OrionW regularly advises clients on employment matters.  For more information about employment law, or if you have questions about this article, please contact us at

Disclaimer: This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice.


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