Six years since its last review of the Employment Act (Chapter 91 of Singapore) (“EA”), the Ministry of Manpower in Singapore (“MOM”) has initiated a public consultation to receive feedback on areas being considered in its 2018 review of the EA.
This client update will provide a brief overview of the present legal framework under the EA and highlight the key areas of review as identified by the MOM, the National Trades Union Congress and Singapore National Employers Federation.
Scope of employees covered by the EA
The EA currently covers all employees, including foreign employees and part-time employees, except for managerial or executive employees earning a basic monthly salary of more than S$ 4,500, seafarers, domestic worker, statutory board employees and government employees. Employees covered by the EA are afforded core protections such as salary payment, rights in relation to termination of employment, recourse for wrongful dismissal, and sick and holiday leave entitlements. As part of the public consultation, the MOM is inviting views on whether these core protections should be extended to all employees, including managerial and executive employees earning a basic monthly salary of more than S$ 4,500. If the proposed changes are implemented, this would mean that higher-paid professionals, managers and executives (“PMEs”) will be entitled to the protection of the EA, including in a situation of wrongful dismissal.
Scope of vulnerable employees
Presently, rank-and-file “white collar” employees such as clerks, receptionists and retail sales assistants, who earn a monthly salary of up to S$2,500, as well as employees engaged in manual work who earn a month salary of up to S$ 4,500 are considered vulnerable employees deserving of greater protection. Accordingly, such vulnerable employees are currently granted protection over, inter alia, rest days, hours of work and annual leave in addition to the core protections under the EA.
One of the key aims of the public consultation is to review the appropriateness of the present salary thresholds, with the intention of expanding the scope of vulnerable employees as well as seeking means to enhance the flexibility of such threshold provisions for both employers and employees.
Streamlining employment dispute services
The Employment Claims Tribunal (“ECT”) was established in April 2017 to facilitate the resolution of salary-related employment disputes while appeals against unfair dismissals are heard by the MOM. Under the current framework, employees facing wrongful dismissals usually resort to both the ECT and the MOM to resolve their employment disputes as dismissal and salary-related claims tend to be interrelated. Another key objective of the public consultation is to seek public proposals on how to streamline such dispute resolution services for both employers and employees.
For more details, please see the MOM’s press release on 18 January 2018 here.
Have a question on employment disputes?
If you have any question on employment matters, you can request a quote from Teo Mae Shaan. Alternatively, you can also get a Quick Consult and expect a call back within 1-2 days on the phone to get legal advice and have your questions answered.
This article does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area. If you require any advice or information, please speak to practicing lawyer in your jurisdiction. No individual who is a member, partner, shareholder or consultant of, in or to any constituent part of Interstellar Group Pte. Ltd. accepts or assumes responsibility, or has any liability, to any person in respect of this article.