“Compass”: Changes to the procedure for the granting of work permits in Singapore


As a one-stop service provider in Asia, Luther offers its clients not only legal and tax advice but also further services through its colleagues from Luther Corporate Services, including acting as company secretary, a role required in any company in Singapore, or as a locally resident director or data protection officer. If desired, we can also provide bookkeeping and accounting services or perform certain HR functions.

As client mandates are always handled in an interdisciplinary manner, our clients can, of course, also count on our lawyers to provide legal advice in the areas mentioned above. This is particularly important whenever changes in law need to be implemented, or upon significant changes being made to well-established official procedures in Singapore.

A highly topical issue in this context is the changed procedure for the granting of work permits in Singapore, which is scheduled to take effect on 1 September 2023.

The “Complementarity Assessment Framework” applicable from 1 September 2023 is also referred to briefly as “Compass”. It will be interesting to see whether the new system will live up to its name and point a new way forward for work permit applications or whether our clients’ current scepticism will prove justified.

In a nutshell, Compass will replace the work permit application procedure currently in force, which focuses above all on the applicant’s salary. In future, in addition to the required base salary, more importance will be placed on the applicant’s qualifications and on whether there is a demand for those qualifications in Singapore which cannot be fulfilled by the local labour force. Apart from the strong financial services sector in Singapore, qualifications in agrotechnology, green economy, healthcare and shipping are currently in particular demand. As Singapore’s already high level of digitalisation continues to rise quickly and the country wishes to maintain its position as an excellence centre in Southeast Asia, the most sought-after employees are people working in InfoComm technology.  

In addition to the personal assessment of the applicants their potential employers in Singapore – and hence our clients – will also be examined in future. In this context, particular consideration will be given to whether and to what extent the employer supports the local labour market, to the employer’s diversification, and to whether the employer contributes to achieving Singapore’s strategic economic goals.

Full-service advice in all relevant areas of law

Luther is by far the largest continental European law firm in Southeast Asia, with offices in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar. All these offices offer our clients interdisciplinary advice and are also part of a tightly integrated network.

We collaborate across locations to advise companies and their stakeholders throughout the business lifecycle on matters as diverse as the establishment of representative offices, branches or independent companies, corporate law issues, the formation of distribution networks, setting up at a production site, and all types of mergers. We also occasionally provide advice on private matters, such as tax, inheritance or family law issues. When providing advisory services, our colleagues from diverse European backgrounds – German, French, Spanish, Belgian, Austrian, Turkish and Swiss – always work closely with our local lawyer colleagues and partners. Our main areas of practice are:

  • Compliance;
  • Employment Law;
  • Investment;
  • IP Law;
  • Commercial and Distribution Law;
  • Litigation;
  • M&A;
  • Tax;
  • Data Protection; and
  • Immigration.

We are always committed to achieving the best possible economic results for our clients. Where these results cannot be achieved in direct negotiations with contractual partners or public authorities, we advise and assist our clients in any mediation, arbitration or court proceedings that may become necessary.

Dr Thomas Hufnagel

Dr Thomas Hufnagel
+65 6408 8005 / +49 221 9937 25737

Jan Zimmer

Jan Zimmer
Senior Associate
+65 6408 8000