Employment, Benefits Law Revisions Clear Singapore's Parliament

Businesspeople talking at office window, group, discussion, meeting, diverse, woman leader, Asian

By Mercer's Fiona Webster and Stephanie Rosseau | 26 Nov 2018

Stronger worker protections, expanded benefit rules, and new dispute resolution procedures highlight a wide-ranging amendment of Singapore's Employment Act passed by Parliament on 20 November and will take effect on 1 Apr 2019. Public servants, domestic workers, and seafarers will continue to be excluded from the act and are covered by separate laws.

The Employment Act changes include:

  • Extension of the act's core protections to cover all professionals, managers, and executives. Currently the act excludes managers and executives earning more than SGD $4,500 per month. Core protections include minimum annual leave, paid public holidays, sick leave, timely payment of salary, and statutory protection against wrongful dismissal. An estimated 430,000 managers and executives will be covered by the change.
  • A rise in the salary cap for nonmanagerial white collar workers (non-workmen). The salary cap will increase to SGD $2,600 (up from SGD $2,500), and the cap on the amount of monthly salary also used to calculate hourly overtime pay will increase to SGD $2,600. The increases will apply to an estimated 100,000 additional non-workmen.
  • A one-stop employment dispute resolution framework will be created when the Employment Claims Tribunals (ECT) take over the Ministry of Manpower's responsibility for adjudicating wrongful dismissal claims and publish tripartite guidelines on wrongful dismissal. The qualifying period for managers and executives to claim wrongful dismissal will be reduced to six months, down from 12.
  • Greater flexibility in granting employees time off in exchange for working on public holidays. The conditions for making authorized salary deductions will change. From April 2019, employees must provide written consent before their employer can make salary deductions (such as, benefits employee benefits from negotiated group insurance plans). Employees will be able to withdraw their consent to deductions at any time, without penalty.
  • Employers will have to recognize medical certificates issued by all doctors. Currently certificates must be provided by government or company-appointed doctors.
  • Clarification that paid hospitalization care will cover:
  • Care provided in a hospital and the recuperation period after the patient's discharge from hospital
  • Legally required quarantine orders
  • Situations where a patient doesn't go to hospital even if a doctor has assessed that they are ill enough to be hospitalized.