First review of Employment Act in six years

The Manpower Ministry is reviewing the Employment Act - Singapore's main labour law - and wants the public to provide feedback on its proposed changes.
The Manpower Ministry is reviewing the Employment Act - Singapore's main labour law - and wants the public to provide feedback on its proposed changes. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) earning more than $4,500 a month may soon be legally entitled to basic rights such as public holiday and sick leave entitlements, receiving their salary on time, and redress for wrongful dismissals.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is reviewing the Employment Act - Singapore's main labour law - and wants the public to provide feedback on its proposed changes. The consultation period lasts a month, starting from Thursday (Jan 18).

The last review of the Act ran from 2012 to 2013.

Currently, PMEs are only covered if they earn up to $4,500 a month, though many of those not covered already have access to many of the provisions, said the ministry in a statement.

"We would like to invite views on whether such core provisions should be extended to all employees," it said.

MOM said the Act is reviewed regularly to keep pace with the changing labour force profile and employment landscape.

Another change being considered is to extend additional provisions such as overtime pay and annual leave to more vulnerable employees.

Currently, these cover rank-and-file employees in white-collar occupations - such as clerks, receptionists and retail sales assistants - earning up to $2,500 a month, and manual workers earning up to $4,500 a month.

MOM is asking the public what they think are appropriate levels for these salary thresholds.

Finally, the ministry is reviewing the way employment disputes are settled.

Currently, even though dismissal claims and salary issues usually go together, workers have to go to two different parties to have their cases resolved. This is because statutory and contractual salary-related disputes are heard by the Employment Claims Tribunals, while wrongful dismissal claims are heard by the ministry.

"We are reviewing this process to make it more streamlined for employees and employers," said MOM.

The key areas of the proposed review will be available on the Reach website (www.reach.gov.sg) from Jan 18 to Feb 15. The public can provide feedback by e-mailing mom_consultations@mom.gov.sg with the subject heading "Consultation on EA review".

MOM requested that people identify themselves and any organisation they represent, identify the specific proposals they are commenting on and try to explain their points with illustrations and examples.

After the last review of the Act, PMEs earning $4,500 and below received more protection. They previously were covered in just one aspect - salary payments.