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Upcoming Changes to Singapore´s Employment Law

26. February 2019

Changes to the Employment Act from 1 April 2019 to cover all employees and enhance dispute resolution and provide business flexibility

Singapore - Parliament passed major amendments to the Employment Act on 20 November 2018 to cover all employees, signalling a “watershed” moment for efforts to protect workers.

The Act, enacted by the late Cabinet Minister S Rajaratnam, came into force in 1968. Before the latest round of changes, it was reviewed in 2012, with the most recent amendments taking effect in 2016. These included making it mandatory for employers to give their workers payslips, and making known key employment terms to workers within 14 days of hiring.

In the current amendment, 1120 changes were made, however they changes cover four key areas:

- Extension of core provisions of the EA to protect all employees;
- Extension of Part IV of the EA to protect more employees;
- Enhancement of the employment dispute resolution framework; and
- Enhanced flexibility for employers

The most important changes at a glance:

  • All managers and executives, regardless of their salary levels, will be protected under the Act. This will benefit an additional 430,000 M&Es who will be covered for core provisions such as minimum 7-14 days of annual leave, paid public holidays and sick leave, timely payment of salary, statutory protection against wrongful dismissal and an automatic transfer of employees where a business is sold. 

  • Employees in white-collar jobs, such as retail sales assistants and clerks — classified as “non-workmen” under the law and earning up to S$2,600 monthly (previously S$ 2,500) — will be protected in terms of time-based provisions. These include provisions for hours of work, overtime payments and rest day.

    The change means that 100,000 more workers will benefit from the coverage, including pay for working overtime, with protection widened to half the workforce.

  • To provide a “one-stop service” for employment dispute resolution, the adjudication of wrongful dismissal claims will be shifted from MOM to the Employment Claims Tribunals (ECT), which currently adjudicate salary-related disputes. In addition, the service qualifying period for M&Es to qualify for wrongful dismissal protection will be reduced from 12 months to 6 months. With the transfer of the adjudication function to the ECT, MOM will publish a set of Tripartite Guidelines on Wrongful Dismissal to illustrate what is considered wrongful dismissal. 

  • Changes to the EA were also made to provide flexibility to employers to give time off to more employees for work on public holidays, while ensuring that those with lower bargaining power will continue to get either their extra day’s salary or full-day off. Like other core provisions, compensation for work done on public holidays has been extended to all employees. 

We may also provide you with the newsletter [pdf, 1,371.5kb] of our lawyer. 

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