In the Process Construction and Maintenance sector it is the responsibility of the employer to submit the application on behalf of the foreigner and see that the Work Permit is obtained. Work Permits are issued only to workers who meet the specific conditions and requirements prescribed for the manufacturing sector. Employers on their part are also expected to meet a few sector-specific conditions before a Work Permit can be issued to the worker on whose behalf the employer is applying.

Based on the circumstances Work Permit in the PCM sector will be issued for a period of 1 or 2 years for workers from People’s Republic of China (PRC) and non-traditional source (NTS) countries like India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bangladesh, The Republic of the Union of Myanmar and Philippines.

Approved Source Countries/Territories

Foreigners coming from the following countries are eligible to apply for Work Permit in the PCM sector – Malaysia, PRC, and North Asian Sources (NAS) comprising Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Taiwan and NTS countries.

Non-Malaysian workers from PRC, NAS and NTS are allowed to be involved only in the following activities: electrical and instrumentation work, general fitting, machine fitting, metal scaffolding, painting and blasting, plant civil work, plant equipment fitting, process pipe fitting, refractory, rigging and material handling, rotating equipment fitting, thermal insulation and welding.

Quota Restrictions in Employing Foreigners (Dependency Ceiling/Quota)

As far as the PCM sector is concerned, employers need to restrict the foreign workers to a maximum of 7 for every full-time local employee working in the company.

Note for Employers

  • The term local full-time employee denotes Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PRs) whose earnings are not less than $1,000 per month.
  • The term local part-time employee denotes Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PRs) whose earnings are not less than $500 per month.
  • For calculation purposes, two part-time employees count for one full-time employee
  • Activities covered under Process Construction and Maintenance (PCM) Sector
  • Manufacture of petroleum, petroleum products, petrochemicals, specialty chemicals, and pharmaceutical products.
  • Construction and maintenance of production units within plants, which come under the classification Process Construction and Maintenance (PCM) works that require specialized skills and expertise.


Companies coming under the PCM sector applying for Work Permits need to be corporate members of the Association of Process Industry (ASPRI) and they need to be endorsed by the ASPRI as PCM contractors.

Foreign workers employed in the PCM sector need to restrict their activities that are directly related to the construction, preventive, breakdown maintenance of plant and equipment.

They cannot be involved in:

  • Other plant and equipment, warehousing and packaging
  • Other peripheral services like grass-cutting, office cleaning, road construction and maintenance, and waste disposal etc

Foreign Worker Levy

The company that is in the services sector needs to restrict the number of foreigners as employees in the prescribed ratio, and also need to pay a Foreign Worker Levy for every worker in their employment. The amount of Levy is arrived at after taking into consideration the qualifications of the workers and the ceiling/quota that is applicable to the PCM sector.

Employers in the PCM sector are permitted to pay a lower levy rate while employing PRC and NTS foreigners for which they need to get in-principle Support (IPS) from the Economic Development Board.

The issue of IPS is based on:

  • Nature of work assigned to Work Permit holders
  • Value of the Project
  • The duration of the project

In certain circumstances employers are required to provide a Levy Bond in the PCM sector as well when:

  • The work permits of the workers of the employers are cancelled due to non payment of Levy
  • Late payment of levies, at least thrice during the 12-month period
  • Whenever there is change in ownership of a sole proprietorship concern.

New PCM companies starting up as:

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Companies with paid up capital of less than $50,000 that are applying for prior approval in order to recruit foreign workers for the first time.

Payments can be made through Banker’s/Insurance Guarantee or Cashier/Money Order payable to the Commissioner of Work Passes. However, cheque payments are not accepted.

Important steps to be followed while applying for Work Permit

Employers who are applying for Work Permit for workers originating from India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bangladesh, The Republic of the Union of Myanmar, People’s Republic of China need to make the following applications and need to get prior approval before submitting application for Work Permit:

  • Man Year Entitlement (MYE) to confirm eligibility
  • Prior Approval (PA) as and when required
  • In-Principle Approval (IPA) for each Work Permit
  • Purchase of Security Bonds

As far as MYE and PA are concerned, they won’t be required unless the Work Permit is applied on behalf of foreigners from Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea and Taiwan because an In-Principle Approval is sufficient for workers from these countries.

Note for Employers:

Employers cannot bring in non-Malaysian foreigners into the country before applying for the Work Permit.

PCM Workers Training

All workers employed in the PCM sector irrespective of whether they are Work Permit holders or not, need to undergo the Oil Petroleum Safety Orientation Course (OPSOC) in order to:

  • Familiarize themselves on the various types of hazards in the oil/petroleum industry and the precautions that need to be taken in order to prevent accidents at the work place.
  • Train them on the rules and regulations pertaining to the specific trade

It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure all workers undergo this training.