HR Update: New Employment Rules & Law in Singapore

February 3, 20202:09 pm3970 views

Starting from 1 April 2019, MOM Singapore has enacted new laws on core provisions, salary threshold, wrongful dismissal, and medical certificates. The changes are conducted with tripartite partners, the National Trades Union Congress (NUTC) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) to create more sustainability at the workplace for every stakeholder, including workmen and non-workmen. 

Not only to bring sustainable workplace, the changes are also aimed to bring fairness in the work-life of everyone working in Singapore, Josephine Teo, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs, Singapore, announced. There needs to be a fair chance for everyone, including lower-wage workers. In a time of business disruptions worldwide, everyone needs a fair opportunity to re-skill and stay employed. In the unfortunate event of retrenchment, there should be a payout, Teo added. 

See also: Labour Law HR Should Know When Employing Interns

Here is a summary of the employment law changes in the Singapore workforce. 

Point 1 Core provisions will be extended to cover all managers and executives 
  • The monthly basic salary threshold of S$4,500 for managers and executives will be removed. 
  • All employees, whether managers and executives, workmen and non-workmen, will be covered by the core provisions under the Employment Act. 
  • Seafarers, domestic workers, and public servants will also continue to be excluded due to their nature of work, and separate coverage by other Acts and regulations. 
Point 2 Salary threshold for non-workmen to qualify as Part IV employees will be raised from S$2,500 to S$2,600
  • Non-workmen earning more than S$2,500 to S$2,600 will enjoy protection under Part IV provisions.
  • The cap for overtime rate payable for non-workmen covered under Part IV will be raised to S$2,600, up from S$2,500, to be aligned with the raised salary threshold. 
  • There will be no change to the Part IV coverage of workmen earning a monthly basic salary of up to S$4,500. 

Overtime pay calculation will be: 

For non-workmen earning a basic salary of S$2,500 monthly = 1.5 x number of hours of overtime worked x (12 x S$2,500) / (52 weeks x 44 hours) 

For workmen earning a basic salary of S$2,600 monthly = 1.5 x number of hours of overtime worked x (12 x S$2,600) / (52 weeks x 44 hours) 

Note: Part IV on Employment Act covers all employees under a contract of service with an employer, but there are exceptions. For example, Part IV of the Act which provides for rest days, hours of work, and other conditions of services, does not cover managers or executives. 

Point 3 Wrongful dismissal claims will be heard by the Employment Claims Tribunals 
  • Wrongful dismissal claims under the Employment Act and Child Development Co-savings Act will be heard by the ECT, following mediation by the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM). 
  • This change will provide a one-stop service to employees with both salary-related and wrongful dismissal claims. Employees who had both claims previously had to seek resource separately. 
  • Employees can submit a dismissal claim if they believe and can substantiate, as required that their dismissal is wrongful. This includes employees who feel that they were forced to resign for wrongful reasons. 
  • For managers and executives, the minimum service period they must fulfil before they can submit a dismissal claim will be reduced from 1 year to 6 months. There is no change for non-managers and executives for whom no minimum service period is required. 
Point 4 Medical certificates from all doctors and dentists will be recognised for paid sick leave 
  • Employers will be required to recognise MCs from all registered doctors and dentists for the purposes of granting paid sick leave. 
  • Employees will have the flexibility to see general practitioners nearer to their homes. 
  • There is no change to the policy on reimbursement of medical consultation fees. Employers will still be required to reimburse medical consultation fees only for consultation with government doctors, or company-approved doctors, if the medical consultation entitles the employees to paid sick leave. 

By and large, an employer with the HR department must identify the changes and ensure that employees are informed with the new changes. Therefore, communicating the changes through appropriate channels and platforms, including informing relevant supervisors and updating company handbooks is highly advised. HR should also make sure that existing contracts are compliant with the revised laws. 

Read also: 10 Top Employment Law Issues in Asia Pacific

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