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Recent Amendments To the Employment Act in Singapore

The Employment Act is Singapore’s main labour law. Following its last review in 2012, recent amendments have been introduced to ensure that labour laws stay relevant, especially in light of Singapore’s changing labour force and local employment practices. Whether you are an existing employee, newly hired employee, or foreign employee in Singapore, here are 4 key changes which you – and for that matter, your employer – should note under the revised Employment Act, from 1 April 2019.

  1. Core provisions (which include salary payment, paid annual leave, paid sick leave, paid public holidays, employment records, and dismissal) will cover all managers and executives, regardless of their salary levels

Before 1 April 2019, core provisions covered all employees, except managers and executives earning more than $4,500. From April 1 2019, however, core provisions will apply to all managers and executives, thereby affording greater protection for these individuals.

Those not covered under the Act:

Seafarers, domestic workers and public servants who are protected under industry-specific legislation.

  1. “Non-workmen” (such as clerks and receptionists) earning up to $2,600 will be protected by Part IV provisions (which include normal hours of work, overtime payments and rest days) with overtime rate payable capped at the salary level of $2,600

This is a $100 increase in the salary threshold. Before 1 April 2019, it was those earning up to $2,500 monthly who were protected. The $2,250 wage cap for calculating overtime pay before 1 April 2019 will be raised to $2,600 from 1 April 2019 to align with the raised salary threshold.

  1. Wrongful dismissal claims will be heard by the Employment Claims Tribunals

Before 1 April 2019,wrongful dismissal claims were heard by MOM. From 1 April 2019, however, wrongful dismissal claims will be heard by the Employment Claims Tribunals (ECT), following mediation by the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM).

This change means that employees with both salary-related and wrongful dismissal claims will no longer have to seek recourse separately. In other words, the ECT is a “one-stop” avenue to resolve employment disputes.

While both employers and employees have the right to contractual termination, employees can still submit a dismissal claim if they believe and can justify, where necessary, that their dismissal is wrongful, or that they were forced to resign for wrongful reasons.

Managers and executives may submit a dismissal claim if they fulfil a service period of 6 months, contrary to the 1 year requirement previously. There is no change for non-managers and executives for whom no minimum service period is required.  

  1. Medical certificates from all registered doctors and dentists will be recognised for paid sick leave

Before 1 April 2019, only medical certificates (MCs) issued by government doctors and dentists or company-approved doctors and dentists were recognized for granting paid sick leave. From 1 April 2019, however, MCs issued by doctors registered under the Medical Registration Act and dentists recognized under the Dental Registration Act will be recognized for granting paid sick leave.

This grants more flexibility for employees to consult doctors and dentists nearer to their homes. However, this amendment does not change policy on reimbursement of medical consultation fees i.e. 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.

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