Singapore Workers Enjoy Greater Protection, Thanks to Employment Act Changes
Singapore’s labor workforce will enjoy greater protection, thanks to the latest changes and major transformation to the Employment Act. The changes will now entitle Singapore’s labor force to new rights, which include mandatory annual leave of seven to 14 days, paid sick leave and protection from wrongful dismissal. These changes include private-sector employees.
The Employment Act (Amendment) Bill was introduced and work began on updates in 2012. When this act was first introduced in 1968, Singapore’s managers and executives were just a minority in Singapore’s workforce, which is why a review of these changes is needed to reflect the country’s current needs. Currently, the country’s professionals, managers and executives is expected make up about two-thirds of the country’s workforce by 2030.
A Much Larger Pool of Individuals Are Now Covered
With the new changes, the Employment Act will also no longer carry the previous salary cap of $4,500 a month for employees to be entitled to protection. This means that a much larger pool of professionals, managers and executives will now be covered by the Employment Act, an additional 430,000 individuals to be exact. However, public servants, seafarers and domestic workers are still not included in the new changes, as they are covered separately under different laws.
Other changes which are set to be carried out include extra protection to more rank-and-file workers, improving the employment dispute resolution framework, compensation for working on public holidays and even greater flexibility for these employees. More protection will also be given to workers under a section known as Part IV, which sets extra protection for rank-and-file workers. This protection covers areas which include working hours, overtime payment and rest days. These changes are set to take effect in April of next year.
Workers who are not covered under Part IV will be given time off for hours worked on a public holiday, instead of a full day off or an extra day’s pay. This change is expected to give businesses greater flexibility. Additional protection for hours of work will be given in terms of overtime pay and rest days for workmen earning up to $4,500 per month and non-workmen earning up to $2,600 per month, while overtime pay rate will be payable to non-workmen capped at $2,600 per month. This change is expected to benefit 100,000 more employees.
Salary Threshold For Rank-And-File Non-Workmen and White-Collar Workers Increase
The salary threshold for rank-and-file non-workmen and white-collar workers has been increased to $2,600. This means that an additional 100,000 workers will be covered under this protection now. The previous salary cap was at $2,500. However, for manual or blue-collar workers, the salary cap continues to hold steady at $4,500 per month.
Employers must also recognized medical certificates which have been issued by any registered doctor or dentist, under the new changes made to the Employment Act. Previously, employers were only required to recognized medical certificates which were issued by either government doctors or company-approved doctors only.
In terms of salary-related disputes and wrongful dismissal claims, this will now be handled by the Employment Claims Tribunals beginning April next year when the changes come into effect. Managers and executives will be able to seek help if they have served with the employer for at least six months (previously it was 1 year). This is aimed at making it more convenient for employees to direct their concerns to a one-stop service.