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Foreign worker levy (FWL): A guide for employers in Singapore

As an employer, it is crucial to be aware of the various regulations and levies imposed by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in Singapore. One such levy is the Foreign Worker Levy, which affects employers who hire foreign workers. In this guide, we will equip you with essential information about the Foreign Worker Levy to help you stay compliant and avoid penalties. Read on to find out more!

What is the foreign worker levy (FWL)?

The Foreign Worker Levy (FWL) is a levy imposed on employers in Singapore who hire foreign workers. The levy aims to manage the demand for foreign workers and encourage employers to prioritise hiring local talent. By implementing this levy, the Singaporean government seeks to strike a balance between the needs of employers and the interests of the local workforce.

The Foreign Worker Levy is categorised into two main types: one for S Pass holders and another for Work Permit holders. The levy rates vary depending on the type of work pass that the foreign employee holds and the industry of the business.

What is the foreign worker levy for S Pass holders in Singapore?

The S Pass serves as a dedicated employment pass for foreign workers with intermediate skill levels in Singapore. Depending on the sector of your company, the foreign worker levy rates for S Pass holders vary and are organised into different tiers. Presented below is a concise table outlining the levy rates across various sectors:

Sector Tier Quota % Levy
Construction Basic/Tier 1 ≤10% $450
Construction Tier 2 >10% ─ 15% $650
Process Basic/Tier 1 ≤10% $450
Process Tier 2 >10% ─ 15% $650
Marine Shipyard Basic/Tier 1 ≤10% $450
Marine Shipyard Tier 2 >10% ─ 15% $650
Manufacturing Basic/Tier 1 ≤10% $450
Manufacturing Tier 2 >10% ─ 15% $650
Services Basic/Tier 1 ≤10% $450

Tip: Check out our “S-Pass Guide for Employers” if you are wondering how to go about obtaining an S Pass for your foreign workers and learn more about foreign worker quota from “Foreign worker quota: A guide for employers in Singapore”!

What is the foreign worker levy for Work Permit holders in Singapore?

The levy for Work Permit holders in Singapore is also structured in tiers, considering factors such as the worker's skill level, sector, and quota. Below is a table illustrating the tiers and levy rates applicable to different sectors:

Sector Tier Quota % Basic-skilled Higher-skilled
Construction Higher-skilled / Basic-skilled on MYE ≤87.5% $700 $300
Construction Higher-skilled / Basic-skilled on MYE-waiver ≤87.5% $950 $600
Process MYE ≤87.5% $450 $300
Process MYE-waiver ≤87.5% $750 $600
Marine shipyard Basic tier ≤77.8% $400 $300
Manufacturing Basic/Tier 1 ≤25% $370 $250
Manufacturing Tier 2 >25% ─ 50% $470 $350
Manufacturing Tier 3 >50% ─ 60% $650 $550
Services Basic/Tier 1 ≤10% $450 $300
Services Tier 2 >10% ─ 25% $600 $400
Services Tier 3 >25% ─ 35% $800 $600

Tip: Looking to obtain a Work Permit for your foreign worker? Check out our “Work Permit Guide for Employers”! Also, find out more about the requirements and application process for higher-skilled worker levy on the Ministry of Manpower (MOM)’s website! 

Where can I check my foreign worker levy bill?

You can check your foreign worker levy bill on the 6th of every month using the “Check and pay foreign worker levy” page on the MOM’s website. 

Upon accessing the eService with your SingPass as a business employer, you will be able to view and download your levy bills, track your payment history, and receive notifications regarding your levy obligations. The MOM's eService portal ensures easy accessibility and enables employers to stay informed about their levy bills at any time.

By regularly checking your levy bill through the MOM's eService portal, you can stay informed about the amount due and promptly settle your payments. This proactive approach helps you prevent penalties and potential disruptions to your business operations, ensuring smooth continuity.

When and how do I pay for the foreign worker levy?

The levy must be paid promptly to avoid penalties and ensure compliance with the MOM regulations. Here's a guide on when and how to pay your foreign worker levy:

  • Due date: The monthly levy payment is due by the 17th of the following month. For example, the levy incurred in January is due by the 17th of February.
  • Payment method: The levy must be paid using the General Interbank Recurring Order (GIRO). You should apply for a GIRO account if you don’t have one yet.

What are the penalties for late foreign worker levy payments?

Late levy payments can not only lead to financial penalties but also have severe implications for your business and even legal consequences, such as the following:

  • The late payment penalty is calculated at 2% per month or a minimum of $20, whichever is higher. However, there is a maximum cap of 30% of the outstanding levy.
  • Cancellation of existing Work Permits
  • Inability to apply for or issue new Work Permits, as well as renew existing ones
  • Potential legal action initiated by MOM to recover unpaid levy, which may further escalate financial liabilities and legal complications
  • Companies associated with you, your partners, or directors may be restricted from applying for Work Permits

It is therefore crucial to make timely and accurate levy payments to not only avoid penalties and legal consequences but also maintain a smooth and compliant working environment for your business and employees.

Can I apply for a foreign worker levy waiver?

Yes, you can apply for a foreign worker levy waiver in certain situations. The waiver allows you to temporarily suspend or reduce the foreign worker levy payment for your foreign workers. Here are some of the common situations that are eligible for a levy waiver and the respective application process:

If the foreign worker is on How to apply for a levy waiver
Overseas leave for at least 7 consecutive days (capped at 60 calendar days per calendar year) Apply on MOM’s website after the worker returns to SingaporeNo document is needed unless MOM asks for it
Hospitalisation leave issued by a Singapore-registered doctor from a local medical institution Apply on MOM’s website with any of the following documents:Medical certificate showing the period of hospitalisation leaveHospital bills which reflect the admission and discharge dates

Applying for a foreign worker levy waiver can provide temporary relief from levy payments in specific circumstances. 

By understanding the eligibility criteria and following the proper application process, you can effectively manage your levy obligations while accommodating the unique situations of your foreign workers. It is therefore highly recommended to check out the MOM’s website to get detailed information and the latest updates on levy waivers!

Is foreign worker levy a deductible business expense?

Yes, the foreign worker levy is a deductible business expense, which can reduce your company’s taxable income and the amount of tax you need to pay. Learn more about the tax treatment of different business expenses on the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS)’s website!

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