Singapore’s main employment statute, the Employment Act (EA), is undergoing review for amendments expected in 2013. Substantive changes to the EA were last made in 2008.
Since the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced the review in April 2012, it has been working closely with the national unions of employers (SNEF) and employees (NTUC) respectively on possible amendments. A public consultation paper on the proposed changes has been issued in November 2012 and is open for public feedback until 11 January 2013.
The following are some of the key changes which have been proposed:
• Extending EA benefits & protection to professionals, managers & executives (PMEs).
The EA which sets out basic rules on employment terms such as work hours, leave, payments and termination, applies to non-managerial/non-executive employees (employees) and workmen. PMEs earning a salary of up to S$4,500 per month were brought under the EA in 2008 but only for protection on the payment of salary including access to the Labour Court for salary disputes. It is now proposed that some or all of the rest of the EA should apply to PMEs, possibly subject to a salary ceiling.
• Part IV to cover more “employees” and workmen, by raising salary ceilings.
Part IV of the EA sets out certain protections (including working hours, overtime payments, and annual leave) for employees earning up to S$2,000 per month and workmen earning up to S$4,500 per month. It is proposed that the salary ceiling for employees, and possibly workmen, will be raised so that Part IV will apply to more employees and workmen.
• Service qualifying period for unfair dismissal appeals to MOM – proposal for a minimum service period before dismissed employees, particularly PMEs, may appeal to MOM for reinstatement on grounds of unfair dismissal.
The amendments will be reviewed in 2 phases. Proposals for extending the coverage of the EA, improving standards and benefits, and increasing flexibility for employers, including the proposals listed in this article, will be conducted in Phase 1, up to the first quarter of 2013. Phase 2 which will run from the 4th quarter of 2013 will focus on “more complicated issues that require further study” including the protection of “non-traditional work arrangements” such as contract workers and self-employed persons, and better mechanisms to facilitate employment dispute resolution. Proposal for the Phase 2 issues have not as yet been published by MOM.
This article was written by:
Susan de Silva
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