How to Start an Employment Agency in Singapore

How to Start an Employment Agency in Singapore

3 min Read

If you wish to start your own employment agency in Singapore, you’ll need to understand the requirements and methods for obtaining an Employment Agency License (EAL), which will allow you to start your recruitment activities. 

This article provides information on how to start an employment agency and get the required license. Note that an EAL is not required if you are hiring staff under your company’s direct employment.

What is an employment agency (EA)?

An employment agency (also known as a recruitment agency) is a company that assists individuals and other businesses with their hiring and recruitment needs, acting as a negotiating party between the hiring firm and the potential employee. An employment business’s responsibilities include vetting and running thorough background checks on candidates and their respective accreditations. Through this medium, companies will then source these approved candidates from employment businesses. 

In Singapore, there has been a demand for foreigners to take on not only executive and management positions but also manual labor jobs. As a result, numerous large and small employment placement companies have sprung up in the little red dot.

Employment agencies save a lot of time for everyone. Local and international businesses can approach recruitment agencies and obtain filtered applicants right away. They save a significant amount of time and energy that would otherwise be spent sifting through applications. In addition, working with a staffing agency allows companies to quickly hire candidates. Apart from that, hiring people through employment agencies will provide firms with exclusive access to a pool of high-quality talent.

Who needs an Employment Agency License (EAL)?

The Employment Agency License (EAL) is required of all businesses and people involved in employment agency activities in Singapore. EA activities constitute the following:

  • Working with job seekers to process their job applications;
  • Collating the resume of job seekers who are seeking employment;
  • Submitting Singapore Work Visa applications to the authorities on behalf of employers or candidates; and
  • Facilitating the placement of job seekers with employers.

Agencies that do not actively place candidates with employers or have a significant influence on the outcome of employment terms and conditions are not required to get an EAL. These include:

  • Individuals who do ad-hoc, informal, or casual job referrals;
  • Online job portals and job bulletin boards; 
  • Agencies that match tuition teachers with clients;
  • Courier services that are used in recruitment or job placement activities; and
  • Organizations who submit work pass applications and who do not otherwise carry out any matching or placement services.

If you wish to apply for an EAL, you can choose from a variety of license types depending on the type of workers you want to place:

  • Comprehensive License: for all type of workers
  • Comprehensive License (local): for local workers
  • Comprehensive License (non-FDW): for local or foreign workers, except foreign domestic workers
  • Select License: for workers earning a monthly salary of more than $4,500

Employment agency setup procedure in Singapore

Here are the steps to setting up an employment agency in Singapore.

1. Register your Singapore company

You must first set up a Singapore company and choose a business activity code that corresponds to the type of recruitment operations you will be conducting. For more information on how to start a business in Singapore, please refer to our Singapore company registration guide

2. Set up your business office

In Singapore, every registered business must establish a functional business office. While your choice of a model Singapore agency office will be determined by your company’s budget, keep in mind the following permissions:

3. Get the license

Once your company has been registered with ACRA, you must apply for an Employment Agency Licence from the Ministry of Manpower (MoM) as described above. 

From start to end, the process takes about 3-5 weeks. Also, keep in mind that the license is applicable for 3 years and must be renewed after that.

 4. Get a certificate for employment intermediaries

The Certificate for Employment Intermediaries (CEI) course is required for the principal personnel of employment/recruiting agencies. The senior staff must complete this 40-hour course, and the rest of the staff must complete a slightly shorter 32-hour course.

It is worth noting that essential appointment holders must be certified, regardless of whether they work for the employment agency or not. As for all other employees, they must be certified only if they perform employment agency-related work.

5. Get your employment agency personnel registered

Along with the CEI,  business owners must ensure that team members undertaking employment agency operations are registered with MOM and have an individual standardized registration card when operating a staffing agency. 

Note that the registration is not transferable from one employer to another. Therefore, if the employee of one particular recruitment company wants to switch jobs and join another agency, they will have to de-register themselves and reapply for registration under the new company. 

Wrap up

Keep in mind that there are a few procedures to do before you can finally establish your own employment agency. The very first step is to incorporate your business, followed by obtaining a Certificate of Employment Intermediaries and paying the required security deposit to obtain your Employment Agency License.

If this guide has raised any doubts or questions in your mind, we are here to assist you. Please don’t hesitate to contact Biz Atom as our expert will always be available to assist you in finding the best solution for your company.


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