The Employment Act in Singapore Simplified. What Employers Need to Know.

December 20, 2021

The Employment Act is Singapore’s main labour law. It provides for the basic terms and working conditions for employees through core provisions and Part IV provisions that provide additional protection.

What Does The Employment Act Mean For Me As An Employer?
The Employment Act provides a starting point for employers to ensure their existing employment contracts operate within the boundaries of these standards. In addition, the Employment Act renders illegal any term in an employment contract that is less favourable than that provided for under the Employment Act.

Who Is The Employment Act Applicable To?
All employees under a contract of service with an employer are covered, but there are exceptions. For example, Part IV of the Act, does not cover managers or executives. However, Seafarer, Domestic worker, Statutory board employee/ civil servant are not covered by the Employment Act. If the staff is not covered by the Employment Act, his terms and conditions of employment will be according to his employment contract.

What Is Covered Under The Core Provision Of The Employment Act?
Salary Payment:
Payment to be made within 7 days after the end of salary period

Paid Annual Leave:
Minimum of 7-14 days (depending on length of service)

Paid Public Holiday:
11 gazetted holidays

Paid Sick Leave:
14 days per year; and up to 60 days if hospitalisation is required

Employment Records:
Requirement for employers to maintain proper employment records, and to issue written key employment terms and itemised payslips to employees

Dismissal Recourse for wrongful dismissals

Note: Eligibility requirements continues to apply (e.g. to have served the employers for 3 months to qualify forsick or annual leave)

Part IV of the Employment Act provides for additional rights generally relating to the following:

Rest day:
1 rest day per week. The rest day comprises one whole unpaid day and is determined by the employer.

Normal hours of work:
Up to 8 hours per day, or 44 hours a week, if employees are required to work more than 5 days a week; or up to 9 hours a day, or 44 hours a week if employees are required to work 5 days or less a week

Payment for Overtime:
Employees may claim for overtime for all work in excess of the normal hours of work. The overtime rate is at least 1.5 times the hourly basic rate of pay. Employees are not permitted to work overtime for more than 72 hours a month

Break Time:
Employees are generally not required to work more than 6 consecutive hours without a break. If the nature of the work requires continuous work for up to 8 hours, breaks must be provided for meals. The breaks should be at least 45 minutes long.

Part IV of the Employment Act only applies to:

A workman (doing manual labour) earning a basic monthly salary of not more than $4,500

An employee who is not a workman, but who is covered by the Employment Act and earns a monthlybasic salary of not more than $2,600.

Part IV of the Act does not cover all managers or executives

Managers and executives are usually either or both of the following:

Employees with executive and supervisory responsibilities, which include making or influencing employment decisions, formulating business strategies and policies, and managing the business; and

Professionals possessing specialised knowledge (e.g. lawyers, accountants, and doctors). An employee who is employed partly for manual labour and partly for the purpose of supervising others is deemed under the Employment Act as a workman if more than 50% of his scope of work involves manual labour.