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Key Upcoming Changes to the Singapore Employment Act
The Employment Act Amendment Bill (“EA Amendment Bill”), which sets out the amendments to be made to the current Singapore Employment Act (“EA”), was passed on November 20, 2018. These changes will come into effect on April 1, 2019. The EA Amendment Bill provides for six main key changes.
- All employees will be subject to the EA;
- An increase in the salary threshold of Part IV Employees;
- Recognition of constructive dismissal;
- Consent driven approach for permitted salary deductions;
- Wider powers for the employment claims tribunal;
- New retrenchment notification obligations.
All employees will be subject to the EA
Currently, the EA applies only to a class of the workers, namely employees in Singapore who are:
- Employed in non-managerial or non-executive roles;
- Employed in managerial or executive roles, if their salary does not exceed S$4,500 per month.
Hence, with regards to most employees, their employment rights and obligations are primarily set by reference to express terms and conditions in their employment contracts and any company handbook, policies, and procedures. However, From 1 April 2019, the amended EA will remove the salary cap of S$4,500 so that the core EA provisions will cover all employees, including all professionals, managers, executives, and technicians regardless of whether they are foreigners, Singaporeans or Singapore Permanent Residents. The exception to this new amendment to EA would be public servants, domestic workers, and seafarers, as they are covered separately by other legislation.
All employees (disregarding any salary thresholds) will enjoy the employee benefits under the core provisions of the EA, including:
- Paid public holidays;
- Paid sick and hospitalization leave, (employees will be entitled to paid sick leave after examination by any medical practitioner even if such medical practitioner was not appointed by the company;
- Maternity benefits and childcare leave, maternity and childcare leave which are given under the EA, are for less extensive periods than to employees whose child/children are Singapore citizens.; and
- Statutory protections relating to timely payment of salary, unauthorized deductions from salary, maternity protection and dismissal without just cause or excuse.
From 1 April 2019, annual leave entitlement, subject to the limits imposed under the EA, will apply to all employees (which, as mentioned above, would include any employees who are currently non-EA Employees). Interestingly, even after 1 April 2019, only Part IV Employees are expressly permitted by law to carry over any unused statutory annual leave in any leave year for the next 12 months.
Edited by: Shreya Bhattacharya