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Process Construction and Maintenance (PCM) Sector

The employer is responsible for applying on behalf of the foreigner to obtain a Work Permit. Work Permit is issued to those who are able to meet specific conditions and requirements as applicable to their sector. Employers are also required to meet certain sector-specific conditions before a Work Permit is issued to the person on whose behalf they apply.

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

Approved Source Countries/Territories

Foreigners from the following countries are approved for issue of Work Permit in the PCM sector – Malaysia, PRC, North Asian Sources (NAS) consisting of Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea and Taiwan, and NTS countries.

Non-Malaysian workers from PRC, NAS and NTS can 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 pipefitting, refractory, rigging and material handling, rotating equipment fitting, thermal insulation and welding.

Quota Restrictions on Employing Foreigners (Dependency Ceiling /Quota)

Employers in the PCM sector who wish to employ foreigners must restrict it to a maximum of 7 Work Permit holders for every full-time local employee of the company.

Important note for employers:

  • Local full-time employees are defined as -Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PRs) who earn at least $1,000 per month.
  • Local part-time employees are defined as Singaporeans and PRs who earn at least $500 per month.
  • Two part-time employees count as one full-time employee for the purpose of determining the total number of local employees
  • Employers should note that all foreign workers are covered under the Employment act and they are liable to extend the same to them

Activities Covered Under Process Construction and Maintenance (PCM) Sector

Types of activities for which an employer can apply for Work Permit under PCM Sector include –

  • Manufacturing of petroleum, petrochemicals, specialty chemicals and pharmaceutical products
  • Construction and maintenance of the production units within plants, which are classified as Process Construction and Maintenance (PCM) works requiring specialized skills and expertise

Companies that provide PCM services and who apply for Work Permit must be corporate members of the Association of the Process Industry (ASPRI). Further they must be endorsed by ASPRI as a PCM contractor.


Foreign workers employed for PCM work can only perform activities directly related to the construction, preventive and breakdown maintenance of plant equipment. They must not be involved in:

  • Regularly operating the plant equipment, warehousing and packing
  • Peripheral services such as grass-cutting, cleaning of offices, roads, waste disposal etc

Foreign Worker Levy

In addition to restricting the number of foreigners a PCM-related company can employ, they are also required to pay Foreign Worker Levy (Levy) on each worker they employ. The amount of Levy payable is arrived at after taking into consideration the worker’s qualification and ceiling/quota as applicable to the PCM sector.

PCM employers (maintenance contractors) can pay a lower levy rate when they employee PRC and NTS foreigners provided they have In-principle Support (IPS) from the Economic Development Board. The issue of IPS is based on:

  • Nature of work entrusted to Work Permit holders
  • Value of the project
  • Duration of the project

In some situations employers are required to provide a Levy Bond in the PCM sector.

  • Employers whose workers’ Work Permits are cancelled for non-payment of levy;
  • Employers who have been late in paying levies payments for at least three times within a 12-month period;
  • Change of ownership in an existing Sole-Proprietorship; or
  • New construction companies starting up as a:
    1. Sole-Proprietorship
    2. Partnership
    3. Companies with paid-up capital of under $50,000 and are applying for Prior Approval to recruit Foreign Workers for the first time

The mode for payment is a Banker’s /Insurance Guarantee or Cashier/Money Order made payable to the Controller of Work Passes. Cheque payment is not accepted.

Steps to be taken before Applying for Work Permit

Before employers who apply for Work Permits on behalf of foreigners from India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bangladesh, The Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Philippines and People’s Republic of China, must make the following applications and get approval before the actual submission of applications for Work Permit:

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

MYE and PA are not required if the Work Permit is applied on behalf of foreigners from – Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea and Taiwan. An In-Principle Approval is sufficient for these nationals. Security bond IPA is not required for workers from Malaysia.

Important notes for employers:

  • Employers are not allowed to bring non-Malaysian foreigners into Singapore before they apply for the Work Permit
  • Employers are allowed to hire existing NTS and PRC workers who have worked for 2 or more years in PCM sector with other employers without MYE/IPA

PCM Workers Training

All workers employed in the PCM sector (including Work Permit holders) must attend the Oil Petroleum Safety Orientation Course (OPSOC) to:

  • Familiarize workers on the types of hazards in the oil/petrochemical industry and the precautions that must be taken to avoid work accidents
  • Train them on rules and regulation pertaining to their trade

It is the duty of the employer to ensure that employees attend the course.

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