Updates in Singapore’s Labor Laws
The Republic of Singapore is a small city-state with a population of 5.8 million people. The diverse and multi-ethnic population of Singapore comprises 72.6% Chinese, 15% Malays, and 7.4% Indians. Amongst the other ethnic groups living in Singapore are Eurasians and laborers from South Asia, who make up a large part of the population.
Singapore is the economic hub of South East Asia. Its current unemployment rate stands at 3.30%, which means that around 140,000 people in Singapore are unemployed. At the moment, 3,597,700 people are an active part of Singapore’s workforce which means that the labor force participation rate in Singapore is 68.10%. According to the recent statistics, the productivity rate for Singapore’s workforce is 94.50%, and on average, people can earn around SGD 5,877 per month.
In April 2019, the Employment Act of Singapore was amended and came into effect. There were three main changes that were made to the Employment Act:
- The Employment Act covers all foreign and local employees. All full-time, part-time, temporary, and contract-based employees can benefit from the amended Employment Act 2019.
- Part IV of the Employment Act now covers more categories of white-collar, non-workmen staff such as receptionists and clerks.
- Cases of wrongful terminations can now be heard by the Employment Claims Tribunals (ECT) instead of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
Who Does the Employment Act Cover?
Before the amendments to the Employment Act in 2019, managers and executives who had a gross monthly salary of more than SGD 4,500 were not covered by the Employment Act. But after the amendment, Part IV of the Employment Act ensured coverage of top-level managers and executives.
All employees in Singapore, whether they are migrant workers or citizens of Singapore, full-time staff or contract-based workers, are eligible for annual leave, paid sick leave, timely payment of salary, and legal protection against unjust terminations.
It is notable that seafarers, domestic workers, and public officials are not covered by the Employment Act as there are other laws are in place in order to uphold their rights and give them protection against workplace discrimination.
Other Changes Made to Singapore’s Labor Laws in 2019
Before April 2019, employers could only make deductions from salary for reasons explicitly stated under the Employment Act, but with the amendments now in effect, employers can make salary deductions if the employee has provided written consent to have a deduction from their salaries for reasons like loan installments or subscriptions.
However, even with the new amendments, employers cannot deduct more than 50% of the total payable salary.
Medical Certification for Paid Leave
Previously, employers were only allowed to accept medical certifications for paid medical leave issued by government doctors and company-approved doctors. But now, employers are obligated to accept medical certificates that have been issued by any registered doctor or dentist.
Earlier, all non-workmen staff with a salary of SGD 2,500 per month or less were entitled to an overtime payment from the company. But with the recent changes, all workmen staff who have a salary of SGD 2,600 or less is eligible for an overtime payment at a rate of SGD 13.60 per hour, bringing an additional 100,000 employees under protection and making them eligible for overtime payments.
Work on Public Holidays
Before the amendments to the Employment Act, only those managers and executives who earned more than SGD 4,500 per month were eligible for time-off if they had worked on public holidays. But now, the protection has been extended to all workmen who earn more than SDG 4,500 per month, as well as the non-workmen staff who earn more than SDG 2,600 per month.
For more details on Singapore’s Labor Laws, you can visit the official website of the