Singapore: The Latest Amendments To The Employment Act

Last Updated: 9 February 2016
Article by Koh C-u Pinn

The Employment Act stipulates the basic working conditions that employers and employees have to follow. Recently, the government enacted amendments to the Act. I describe the crucial changes that employers have to implement in their businesses.

These recent amendments to the Employment Act are set out in the Employment (Amendment) Act 2015. 

Itemised Pay Slips

First, employers will have to provide itemised payslips for all their employees. They have the choice to issue this in hard copy or soft copy, as long as the soft copy is accessible and useable by the employee if he wishes to subsequently refer to it. These pay slips must be accurate and complete. If an employer fails to give his employee a pay slip within the time prescribed for giving pay slips, he will have to pay a penalty. This is set out in the Employment Act in section 96(4) and section 126B. However, the employer has the choice of consolidating payslips into a monthly payslip. 

Key Employment Terms

It is mandatory for employers to provide the Key Employment Terms (KETs) in writing to employees who work for at least 14 days continuously. The common terms can be provided in the company's employee handbook or website, as long as it is readily accessible by workers. A few required key employment terms would be the employee's working arrangements such as his daily working hours and number of working days per week, along with the basic salary per period. 

The changes regarding itemised payslips and KETs will be effective from 1 April 2016.

Compliance

Failure to comply with the above is likely to lead to administrative penalties. Mr Lim Swee Say, the Minister for Manpower, has mentioned in the Second Reading of the Employment (Amendment) Bill 2015, that such administrative penalties will range from $100 to $200 per occurrence. The Act stipulates that such penalties will not exceed $1,000 for the first time an employer fails to comply with the act, and will not exceed $2,000 for any subsequent failures. 

Taking of Leave

Lastly, the amended Act makes it clear that no employees can take paid childcare leave on a day that they take no-pay leave. Also, employers are required to pay their employees holiday rates of pay or give them a day off if they have to work on public holidays and even non-scheduled public holidays declared by the government, such as polling days and the SG50 Public Holiday.

Enforcement of the new Act

Companies should start implementing these changes by April 2016. However, it is noted that the Ministry of Manpower will take a light touch enforcement approach from April 2016 to end-March 2017, as stated by the Minister of Manpower in the Second Reading of the Employment (Amendment) Bill 2015. Nonetheless, companies should still implement these changes as soon as possible, to avoid any potential administrative penalties. 

In view of the amendments to employment law, you may wish to engage a lawyer for the review of your company's employment policies.

First published August 31, 2015

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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