Singapore employment laws to be changed in April 2019

Out-Law News | 07 Mar 2018 | 10:38 am | 1 min. read

Changes to employment laws in Singapore will be implemented later this year and will take effect in April 2019, the manpower minister has said.

Lim Swee Say told Singapore's parliament that rights and protections provided for under the existing Employment Act in the country will apply to almost all workers under the reforms, according to a report by Channel News Asia.

Currently, many employees enjoy statutory rights to public holidays, sick leave entitlements, payment of salary and allowable deductions, and to redress for wrongful dismissal under Singapore' Employment Act. However, managers and executives that earn more than SIN€4,500 ($3,400) a month are excluded from those core rights. 

The Singaporean government consulted on plans to scrap the salary threshold in January. Now Lim has confirmed that the proposals will be taken forward.

All workers, other than "public servants, domestic workers and seafarers", will be covered by the statutory rights under the updated Act, Lim said, Channel News Asia reported. The reforms will reflect the changing nature of Singapore's workforce, with professionals, managers, executives and technicians expected to make up 65% of workers by around 2030, he said.

Lim also confirmed that salary thresholds will also be changed to extend additional protections some workers are entitled to under Singapore's employment laws to more people, the report said. Those protections concern rights around annual leave, hours of work, overtime pay and rest days.

According to Channel News Asia, Lim also confirmed that reforms relating to the cases considered by employment tribunals in Singapore will also be introduced under the new framework.

At the moment the Employment Claims Tribunals hear statutory and contractual salary-related disputes, whereas the Ministry of Manpower hears claims for wrongful dismissal. In future, wrongful dismissal claims will also be heard by the tribunals.

Bryan Tan of Pinsent Masons MPillay, the Singapore joint law venture between MPillay and Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind, urged employers active in Singapore to conduct a review of their employment contracts to ensure they comply with the new rules before they take effect.