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Employment Amendment Bill in Singapore

When a company hires employees abroad, the HR department in the home country has the duty to keep up with any changes to applicable local employment and labor laws.  Otherwise, existing contracts, benefit packages and other employee entitlements may not be in compliance with current law.  If you have employees in other countries it may not be easy to learn about upcoming changes that affect the employment contracts already in place.

A good example of this was in Singapore, where in April 2019 an amendment was made to the Employment Act (EA), changing several different areas of employment law.  Any employees hired prior to that date may have required changes to their employment contracts in Singapore. 

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Key Amendments to the Employment Act

The amendment affected four different areas that affected both employees and employers and expanded coverage of the EA to an additional 100,000 workers:

1. Core provisions extended to all employees

The first change was to expand the EA’s coverage.  Previously, any managers or executives earning more than $4,500 per month were excluded from the EA’s provisions.  The amendment eliminated that exclusion, so now all professional level employees would receive the same benefit levels as lower tier workers, such annual leave, sick leave and protection from wrongful dismissal.

2. Additional protections for more employees

Another expansion of EA coverage was extended to non-managerial, white collar workers, raising the salary threshold where the provisions would take effect. 

3. Enhancement of the employment dispute resolution framework

The resolution system for wrongful dismissal was streamlined under a new tribunal, and the service qualifying period to make claims was reduced from 12 months to 6 months.

4. Increased flexibility for employers

Employers were also given new latitude in the way that employees are compensated for working on a public holiday, and added a new option of offering partial time off instead of either overtime or a full day off.

Client Case: New Employee Benefits

When these changes came into effect our local partner in Singapore informed us that three of our client’s employees would be affected by the amendment’s expansion of employment rights and benefits.  These rights would now apply regardless of salary level:

  • minimum 7-14 days of annual leave
  • paid public holidays
  • 60 days med/ hospitalization leave inclusive of 14 days outpatient sick leave
  • timely payment of salary
  • reimbursement of medical consultant fee
  • maternity leave/ paternity/ childcare leave
  • statutory protection against wrongful dismissal

Specifically, our client’s employees would have their medical benefits increased to 100% reimbursement, and one of the employees would now have two days of childcare leave for non-citizen children under age 7.

Due to these changes, we contacted our client to approve the new employment contract terms, and notified the employees of the change.

Do you need more information about Singapore?

You can use this summary of the amendment to review your employee’s existing contracts to make sure you are in compliance, but you may have other questions such as:

If an employee was not given the new leave entitlements or benefits after April 2019, can they now claim them retroactively?

Do the employment act amendments apply to both expats as well as resident employees?

Does the employee need an entirely new contract to reflect the changes, or can an amendment to the existing employment contract be used?

We assist our clients in finding answers to questions like this about changes in local employment laws affecting benefits, labor rights, payroll and taxation.  We make international employment simple.

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