On 18 January 2018, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) began a public consultation to gather feedback on its proposed changes to the Employment Act (Chapter 91) (Employment Act) in Singapore. The proposed changes seek to strengthen the protection of employees and to streamline the dispute resolution processes for employment-related disputes.
Currently, all employees (except domestic workers, public servants, seafarers, and managers and executives earning more than S$4,500 per month) are covered by the core provisions in the Employment Act such as public holiday and sick leave entitlements, timely payment of salary and redress for wrongful dismissal. MOM is proposing to extend these core provisions to all employees. Managers and executives are employees who perform executive and supervisory functions, which may include influencing or making decisions on employment issues, formulating strategies and policies of the business and managing and running the business.
In addition, MOM is proposing to review the salary thresholds for workmen (individuals whose work mainly involves manual labour) and non-workmen (rank-and-file employees in white collar occupations) who are covered by the time-based provisions under the Employment Act. Such time-based provisions include annual leave entitlement, hours of work, overtime pay and rest day. At present, workmen and non-workmen earning a monthly salary of up to S$4,500 and S$2,500 respectively benefit from these provisions.
The current dispute resolution processes for employment-related disputes will also be reviewed. Currently, salary-related disputes are heard by the Employment Claims Tribunals whilst dismissal-related disputes are heard by the Minister for Manpower. Because dismissal disputes often involve salary disputes, affected employees must typically go through two separate dispute resolution processes. MOM is seeking views on how to streamline the current two-track process.
The changes to the Employment Act are expected to be tabled in Parliament in September and implemented by 1 April 2019.