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Employment Act Amendments Take Effect on 1 April 2019

May 10 2019 | by OrionW

Amendments to the Singapore Employment Act (Cap. 91) (EA) became effective on 1 April 2019, with the aim of ensuring that local laws are in line with evolving employment practices and the local labour force profile.  The key amendments to the EA are set out below.

Core Provisions extended to cover all managers & executives (M&Es)

Previously, the Core Provisions of the EA (e.g., those relating to salary payments, paid annual leave, paid sick leave, paid public holidays, requirement for employers to maintain proper employment records and recourse for wrongful dismissal) did not apply to M&Es earning above S$4,500 per month.  The amendments removed the salary cap for M&Es, extending the application of the Core Provisions to all employees except public servants, domestic workers and seafarers (who are covered under separate legislation).

Increasing non-workmen’s salary caps under the Part IV Provisions

The Part IV Provisions of the EA provide additional protection to certain types of employees as regards hours of work, payment for overtime work and rest days.  Under the amended EA, non-workmen (i.e., white-collar workers but not M&Es) who earn a basic salary of at least S$2,600 (previously S$2,500) per month are covered by the Part IV Provisions.

Enhancement of Employment Dispute Resolution Framework

The Employment Claims Tribunals (ECT) are now empowered to provide a “one-stop service” for all employment disputes, including wrongful dismissal claims (previously adjudicated by the Ministry of Manpower).  However, employees must first register such claims at the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management for mediation.  Claims which cannot be resolved through mediation will then be referred to the ECT.  Further, M&Es need only to serve a minimum of 6 months (instead of the previous 12 months) to be eligible to claim for wrongful dismissal.

Enhanced flexibility for employers

The EA now provides for compensation to all M&Es for working on public holidays, but grants employers flexibility to offer time off in lieu of paying compensation.  Further, it allows employers to make any salary deduction provided the employee has consented to the deduction in writing and may withdraw such consent at any time without penalty.

Other Amendments

  • Medical certificates from all registered doctors and dentists are now recognised for paid sick leave.  Previously, only those issued by the Government and company-appointed doctors were recognised.
  • Employers are now required to allow non-workmen to carry forward unused annual leave for another 12 months.
  • The salary cap for overtime eligibility for non-workmen covered by the Part IV Provisions is now S$2,600 (raised from S$2,250).

The amendments to the EA apply to all existing and newly-hired employees.

In view of the expanded benefits granted to employees under the amended EA, it is important that employers review their business operations and employment/HR practices to ensure compliance with the EA.