Hiring Foreign Tech Employees in Singapore

Back in 2017 Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman identified Singapore as a future ‘Miniature Silicon Valley’. 

Since then this vision has materialised significantly with Singapore becoming the top destination in Asia for Tech Start Ups. 

Increasingly it is also a market where SaaS companies are looking to establish a sales force, however the additional considerations around engaging Sales and Business Development personnel in Singapore can make businesses hesitant.

In particular, hiring foreign tech employees in Singapore can be challenging, with the ministry of manpower regularly changing the laws regarding employing personnel. 

Option 1: Hiring Foreign Tech Employees in Singapore with a Singaporean entity

Employing people without full compliance with local fiscal and employment legislation can have serious consequences, with high fines or even prison. It could also stop you conducting business in the future. So, it is important to make sure you follow the right steps before you start.

  1. Establish a Business and Hire a Human Resources Manager in Singapore

Before you can look at engaging a HR manager you must first establish a business, open bank accounts and identify office space etc. You will need a locally appointed director for the business, which would either mean relocating somebody internally or making a new appointment locally which can prove prohibitive for businesses looking to ‘dip their toe’ in the market.

Hiring a human resources manager in Singapore could be a long-term option, particular if you envisage a fast-growing workforce. However, you should also consider what their role would entail in the start-up phase. Would they be responsible for recruitment also? Is this part of their skillset? What part of the human resources function can they be directly responsible for and what part would still need to be outsourced?

  1. Engage a Human Resources Consultancy in Singapore

Typically, a business would also have to engage with a human resources consultancy who can offer a range of flexible packages for start-up businesses in Singapore. Choosing the right consultancy that is reflective of your business values whilst ensuring you can employ a local human resources manager or a human resources consultancy to manage this for you. Of course, you will also need to have completed the process of setting up a business in Singapore before proceeding with this option.


Option 2: Engage a PEO or Workforce Management Partner

Engaging with a PEO or workforce management partner is an increasingly popular option for tech businesses looking to ‘land and expand’. This would allow you to avoid the requirement to register a business in country as your employees are engaged via a separate entity. This means that you can focus solely on implementing your business strategy whilst the employer liability and HR advisory services remain with a company that specialises in the subject. Should the employees not live up to expectation or the project become unviable it is much simpler to serve the employees their notice and move on. Hopefully however, you can prove the business works and after a successful period of say 12 months, look to establish your own entity and transition the employees across.


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